|05-05-2011, 12:16 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Family Indicted On Immigration Fraud Charges
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Jacksonville family has been indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and to make false statements to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mowafak Shahla, 42, Fadi Chahla, 39, Antoun Chahla, 41, Fadel Chahla, 69, and Nuhad Numan, 60, are named in the indictment.
Shahla, Fadi Chahla and Antoun Chahla are also charged with unlawfully procuring naturalization and citizenship.
Fadel Chahla and Nuhad Numan are the parents of Shahla, Fadi Chahla and Antoun Chahla. All five of the defendants emigrated at different times from Syria to the U.S.
The indictment alleges a multi-object conspiracy involving Raymond Knight working with Shahla to broker a series of fraudulent marriages. The conspiracy involved three U.S. citizens entering into fraudulent marriages in exchange for money, according to the indictment.
The three fraudulent marriages involved Shahla and Victoria Knight, Fadi Chahla and Brenda Pettit, and Antoun Chahla and Genetta Knight, according to the indictment. In support of these fraudulent marriages and in an attempt to procure naturalization and citizenship, each defendant submitted documents containing false statements to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, prosecutors said.
Shahla, Fadi Chahla and Antoun Chahla were arrested Thursday morning at two different homes in Jacksonville. Fadel Chahla and Nuhad Numan remain at large and may be outside of the U.S., prosecutors said.
If convicted on all counts, Shahla, Fadi Chahla and Antoun Chahla each face a maximum penalty of up to 25 years imprisonment and $750,000 in fines. In addition to these penalties, the U.S. is seeking forfeiture of two homes used to facilitate the crimes charged in the indictment.
Victoria Knight pleaded guilty in January to conspiracy to make false statements to a government agency. Genetta Knight and Brenda Pettit pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, make false statements to a government agency, and mail fraud.
Each defendant is awaiting sentencing.
Family Indicted On Immigration Fraud Charges - Jacksonville News Story - WJXT Jacksonville