Thursday, August 5, 2010

Marriage Scam

Sussex vicar guilty of immigration marriage scam

A vicar has been found responsible of carrying out hundreds of scam marriages to bypass immigration law.

Alex Brown conducted 383 weddings, over four years at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards, Sussex, 360 of them were fake.

Crown Prosecution Service said it was thought to be the largest fake marriage case it had brought to court. The jury at Lewes Crown Court convicted the 61-year-old of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.
Co-defendants Vladymyr Buchak, 33-year-old, have also been found guilty of the same offence, paid eastern Europeans up to £3,000 each to marry Africans, mainly from Nigeria.

The court heard Brown conducted the 360 fake ceremonies between July 2005 and July 2009. The defendants were caught after the UK Border Agency investigated the bogus marriages. Brown was arrested last June.

Jurors were shown photocopies of the marriage register which showed hundreds of people who had got married all seem to live in a small number of streets, with 90 couples registered as living in one road. In some cases, several brides and grooms claimed to live in the same house. The court heard most of those involved in the marriages had given false addresses. Brown insisted he only ever married couples he was sure were together for the right reasons and said he only made exceptions if the bride-to-be was about to give birth. Sentencing was adjourned until 6 September for pre-sentence reports to be carried out on Brown and Adelasoye.

Jury said specialist teams of immigration and police officers were working to tackle this form of organised criminality.

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