USCIS Efforts in Albany Lead to Marriage Fraud Conviction

Albany, N.Y. — The efforts of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) led to a successful conviction in a marriage fraud case. After a five-day trial that ended today, a jury voted to convict Yana Potapova, a 29-year-old Russian citizen residing in Schenectady, New York, of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo Field Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Kevin M. Kelly.

Potapova faces up to five years in prison. She will be sentenced on July 10, by Senior United States District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that in April 2014, Potapova and U.S. citizen Brett Thompson agreed to marry in order to obtain lawful immigration status for Potapova. Potapova was illegally present in the United States, having overstayed on a visitor visa. In return for agreeing to marry – and stay married to – Potapova, Thompson received approximately $3,500 over the course of the marriage. In May 2015, in connection with her application to obtain permanent residency, Potapova falsely represented to USCIS that she and Thompson lived together at an address in Albany.

Thompson previously pled guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and is awaiting sentencing.

This case was investigated by HSI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emmet O’Hanlon.

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