American Man Pleads Guilty In Cambodian Marriage Scam

A 25-year-old American man pleaded guilty in a federal court in the US state of Kentucky on Tues­day to charges that he fraudulently married a Cambodian woman who wanted US citizenship, a match that got him about $7,000, sexual services and an all-expenses paid Cambodian holiday, according to a statement.

Justin Michael Martin of Kentucky faces up to 10 years in jail and a $500,000 fine after pleading guilty to marriage fraud and conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, the US Immigration and Customs Enforce­ment agency said. A date for sentencing has not been set.

Mr Martin was one of 23 people indicted in April by a federal grand jury for alleged involvement in a fraudulent marriage ring. The conspiracy included over 12 marriages and attempted marriages between 2000 and 2010.

The release said Yota Em, the woman Mr Martin married, was currently a fugitive but did not mention the status of any of the other 22 people who have been indicted.

Mr Martin traveled to Cambodia in 2004 after being approached by three people, including his future wife, according to the statement from ICE. The couple were married in 2007 and divorced two years later.

“Martin admitted that he was paid about $7,000 for participating in the marriage fraud scheme,” the ICE statement said. “While in Cambodia, members of the conspiracy paid for Martin’s lodging, food, transportation, sexual services from a Cam­bodian female, and other expenses.”

Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said yesterday that the Cambodian government is trying to stop sham marriages.

“Cambodian and foreigners must complete precise marriage certificates approved by the commune and district chiefs and must interview at the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department,” she said.

In an April 13 statement from the US Department of Justice, a US official called marriage fraud a national security concern.

“Marriage fraud results in an illegal shortcut to US citizenship and poses a concern to our national security,” said John Morton, assistant secretary of homeland security for ICE.

      (Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)


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