CHICAGO (AP) -- Federal officials say they've uncovered a marriage scam in which Americans were paid to marry Eastern Europeans so the immigrants could get their green cards.
An indictment unsealed yesterday charged nine Americans and nine Eastern Europeans with marriage fraud.
The Americans allegedly accepted cash payments of up to five-thousand-dollars to enter into the marriages. Federal officials say those involved attended each other's weddings and posed in photos to make the arrangements look legitimate to immigration authorities.
Thirty-one-year-old Jeremy Starnes of Chicago is accused of leading the scheme. He pleaded not-guilty yesterday in federal court.
Defendants who were U-S citizens also were charged with conspiracy to commit immigration fraud.
All defendants could face up to five years in prison if convicted.