Russian man convicted in fraud visa marriage scheme

·2-min read

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A jury has convicted a Russian man on multiple charges related to visa fraud for paying a Maine woman to enter a sham marriage and later falsely claiming to be the father of a child with her.

Alexander “Sasha” Gormatov, 33, was convicted Thursday of conspiring to commit visa fraud, making false statements to a federal law enforcement agency and visa fraud, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Federal prosecutors said Gormatov met Raeanna Johnson in 2011 via a Craigslist ad for employment. Johnson was 17 at the time and Gormatov was enrolled at Southern Maine Community College and had an academic student visa. When Johnson turned 18 a few months later, prosecutors said he paid her to marry him and then dropped out of college classes.

In 2013, the two made false statements to federal immigration services claiming to be living together as a married couple. In January 2014, Johnson gave birth to a child that she had with her actual boyfriend, but falsely listed Gormatov as the father on the birth certificate.

Gormatov returned to Russia in 2018 when he learned he was being investigated for visa fraud, but returned in 2019, again falsely claiming to be the father of a child with Johnson. The two were arrested in February 2020. Johnson, now 27, pleaded guilty to related charges in October and testified at Gormatov's trial.

The two-day jury trial was the first to be held in federal court in Maine since March 2020 when courts limited in-person appearances.

Gormatov could face up to 10 years in prison on the visa fraud charge and a fine of $250,000. A sentencing date has not been set and it is expected that he would be deported after serving a prison sentence.

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