Historic City News was notified that a federal jury in Jacksonville found three Syrian citizens guilty of evading US immigration laws, making false statements to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and unlawfully attempting to procure naturalization and citizenship through a fraudulent marriage scheme.
The men, who are brothers, were indicted on April 26, 2011 for entering into fraudulent marriages in 1999, 2002, and 2005.
Mowafak “Mike” Shahla (43), Antoun “Tony” Chahla (42), and Fadi Chahla (40) recruited three women, who are US citizens, to enter into fraudulent marriages. They made cash payments to the women, including monthly payments.
During part of the conspiracy, payments totaling $3,000 were made to one of the women in exchange for her agreeing to travel to Syria on two occasions.
The three women, who are related to each other, plead guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and agreed to cooperate with the investigation. The two sisters and their sister-in-law, each received a two-year probation sentence.
Each man faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison for the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years in federal prison for each of the other offenses. Based on their convictions today, and because of their fraudulent actions, each of the men is subject to deportation. The sentencing hearings have not yet been scheduled.