Pair arrested in green card marriage that resulted from Web ads
A Russian woman blatantly stated her objective in her postings. Her lawyer says she didn't know such marriages were illegal.
After more than a year of what federal prosecutors allege is a sham marriage, Kalinina and her 30-year-old husband, Benjamin C. Adams, were arrested last week at separate residences. (Handout)
"Green Card Marriage -- Will pay $300/month. Total $15,000," the Russian national living in Los Angeles wrote in an ad placed on the Craigslist website. "This is strictly platonic business offer, sex not involved."
Just in case any would-be Romeos weren't taking the hint, she added, "NOT required to live together."
Kalinina's direct approach was very attractive, drawing the attention not only of the man who would marry her, but also of agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
After nearly two years of what federal prosecutors allege was a sham marriage, Kalinina and her 30-year-old husband, Benjamin C. Adams, were arrested last week at separate residences.
Prosecutors say Kalinina leased Adams a new Ford Mustang for his trouble.
She also took care of the wedding arrangements: Performing the ceremony was Dmitri Chavkerov, an Internet-ordained minister who also happened to be Kalinina's live-in boyfriend.
"I'd say it's a fairly blatant example of marriage fraud," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Curtis A. Kin, one of the prosecutors on the case.
Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of ICE investigations in Los Angeles, said it was the first criminal case he was aware of in which people had allegedly used the Internet to engineer a fraudulent marriage in hopes of obtaining a green card.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Kalinina began advertising in the personal ads section of Craigslist in October 2005.
She posted at least eight ads, most of them titled "Green Card Marriage -- Will pay $300/month. Total $15,000."
According to the court papers, ICE agents also obtained e-mails from Kalinina's Google account in which she and Adams discussed their potential marriage.
"How long does it have to last for?" Adams allegedly asked, according to a Jan. 9, 2006, e-mail.
"Marriage will take 2-3 years (most likely 2)," Kalinina responded.
Adams then told Kalinina that he had bad credit and suggested she lease a car for him in exchange for agreeing to marry her, the complaint alleges. The two were married Feb. 17, 2006.
A month later, Kalinina leased Adams a 2006 Ford Mustang, the documents state. That April, the couple filed paperwork seeking to establish permanent residency for Kalinina.
When confronted by ICE agents months later, the documents state, Kalinina and her boyfriend -- the man who performed the marriage ceremony -- admitted that the marriage to Adams was a fraud intended to obtain a green card. Marrying her boyfriend would have done nothing to help her immigration status, because he is in the country illegally.
Attorney Dale Rubin, who is representing Kalinina, said his client has a pending asylum application but was concerned that it wouldn't be granted before she was due to leave the country.
He said Kalinina didn't know it was illegal to marry for a green card, which he said was evidenced by the blatant language in her ad.