April 17, 2008, - 4:00 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
While most Navy men–and most members of any branch of the U.S. military–are serving our country for lower salaries and benefits than the average American, some are apparently not so “civic-minded”.
Navy personnel in at least eight states were indicted for sham marriages to illegal aliens. Not exactly patriotic and anything but the oath they gave to “serve and protect” our country:
Federal authorities have combed through eight states since early Wednesday morning, arresting suspects in a sweeping investigation into fraudulent marriages between Navy sailors and illegal immigrants.
Three indictments unsealed Wednesday afternoon charge 33 people – current and former sailors and their brides. Thirteen defendants appeared in U.S. District Court as federal agents searched seven other states for the remaining suspects.
Federal authorities have been targeting bogus marriages and Navy housing fraud for at least two years, having already arrested at least 40 other individuals here and in New York.
This is the largest one-time sweep, and Navy officials said they hope this puts an end to the practice. More than 73 people have been arrested so far, with dozens convicted, jailed or deported. . . .
The arrangement benefits both bride and groom. The brides, here illegally, get the fast track to green cards and, possibly, citizenship. The sailors get an increase in their housing allowances, plus payments ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 from their brides.
Authorities say they also have national-security concerns: The illegal immigrant could be seeking to cause harm. . . .
Word of the scheme spread through Norfolk Naval Station over the past several years. Sailors learned they could take home thousands more a year in housing allowances if they married, according to court papers. The Navy said the scheme has cost taxpayers more than $225,000. . . .
Most of the brides . . . came here on short-term student or visitor visas. The court papers say the marriages were never consummated. . . .
Other arrests were being made in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and California.
One attorney representing a defendant in a related marriage fraud case questioned the government’s methods in tackling the problem.
Stephen P. Patrizio, a Philadelphia attorney . . . said he doesn’t understand all the effort being put into jailing illegal immigrants in marriage fraud cases when they will end up being deported anyway.
“I think there’s a whole lot of other things that need more attention.”
Such as . . . ?
Some of the soldiers in the case are stationed aboard the Iwo Jima, another amphibious assault ship.
Talk about serving with dishonor. These Navy men need to be court-martialed.
Tags: attorney, California, Debbie Schlussel, Georgia, Kentucky, Navy, New York, Norfolk Naval Station, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Stephen P. Patrizio, Tennessee, U.S. District Court, U.S. military, United States, USD