A Fairfield County woman admitted to arranging more than two dozen sham marriages so that non-U.S. citizens could receive immigration benefits.
Jodian Stephenson, also known as Jodian Gordon, 35, of Bridgeport, pleaded guilty in New Haven federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration marriage fraud, U.S. Attorney John Durham said. In total, 28 sham marriages were arranged by Stephenson, who was in one of the arranged relationships.
Stephenson operated Stephenson Immigration and Legal Services, LLC, in Bridgeport and between 2011 and 2017, she conspired with others to arrange the 28 sham marriages to allow people to apply and obtain green cards.
For each of the other 27 fraudulent marriages, Stephenson found and introduced a U.S. citizen to be the noncitizen spouse and helped the couple obtain a marriage license. She also organized the marriage ceremony and celebration and coached the couple on how to make their marriage appear to be genuine despite them neither living together nor otherwise intending to remain actually married.
As part of the scheme, Stephenson prepared immigration documents needed as part of the non-citizen’s application for a green card. She had the applicant and spouse sign the documents and, in many cases, mailed the documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service immigration authorities.
Durham said that in some cases, Stephenson or her assistants prepared other false documents for the couple, such as a false lease that portrayed the couple as living together.
During the investigation, Durham said that Stephenson offered to arrange such a sham marriage for an investigator for a proposed $20,000 fee. She was recorded introducing an undercover officer to a U.S. citizen, advising how they could create the appearance that they were validly married and living together.
Stephenson charged between $17,000 and $20,000 to complete the process for the non-citizen and the spouse received approximately $2,000 to $4,000 for his or her participation in the scheme. Six others have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme.
Stephenson has been released on a $250,000 bond since her arrest on June 22 last year. When she is sentenced, she will face a maximum term of five years in prison. No sentencing date has been scheduled.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.