Nigeria

U.S court indicts Nigerian pastor over fake marriages, visa fraud

A Federal Grand Jury in Maryland, United States, has indicted a Nigerian pastor, Joshua Olatokunbo Shonubi, for conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud.

A Federal Grand Jury in Maryland, United States, has indicted a Nigerian pastor, Joshua Olatokunbo Shonubi, for conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud.

According to reports gathered, the 50-year-old pastor of New Life City Church in Maryland, made his first court appearance on Thursday, for leading a scheme to fraudulently obtain permanent resident status for foreign nationals by arranging marriages to U.S. citizens.

It was also alleged that Shonubi have arranged approximately 60 fraudulent marriages for foreign nationals and American citizens between 2014 and 2021, receiving thousands of dollars to facilitate the marriages.

The seven-count indictment revealed that Shonubi also allegedly recruited and groomed American citizens, including economically disadvantaged citizens, with payments and promises of money in exchange for helping the foreign nationals acquire permanent residency through the sham marriages, some of which he officiated.

The indictment further stated that the suspect submitted reference letters on official church letterhead to a federal government agency, in support of foreign nationals’ applications for permanent residence.

The District of Maryland’s Department of Justice in a statement stated, “On at least 34 occasions, Shonubi also allegedly created false rental leases, listing Jaypro, a corporation he formed in 2015, as a landlord, to provide proof that the foreign national and U.S. citizen were living together, when in fact, they were living separately.”

If convicted, Shonubi might face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud and marriage fraud and a maximum of five years in federal prison for each of six counts of presenting false documents to a federal government agency.

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