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United States of America v. Peter Joseph Hicks
District of Massachusetts Federal Courthouse - Boston, Massachusetts
Case Number: 4:18-cr-40012-TSH
Judge: Timothy S. Hillman
Court: United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Suffolk County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: David G. Tobin
Defendant's Attorney: Oscar Cruz , Jr. - FPD
Description: Springfield, MA - Worcester Man Pleads Guilty to Marriage Fraud
Six women from Sub-Saharan Africa married defendant to gain legal status in U.S.
A Worcester man pleaded guilty on September 11, 2018 in connection with entering into six fraudulent marriages in order to evade immigration laws.
Peter Hicks, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of marriage fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for Dec. 4, 2018. Hicks was arrested and charged in January 2018 and released on conditions following an initial appearance.
In 2014, federal law enforcement agents uncovered evidence that Hicks married six foreign national women from Sub-Saharan Africa between 2003 and 2013. Hicks filed for immigration benefits for four of his six wives.
During a routine interview as part of his application for benefits for a non-citizen spouse, Hicks admitted to marrying three of the women solely to obtain immigration benefits for them. During a second interview with immigration officials, Hicks admitted that he was paid to recruit people for fraudulent marriages. During an interview with federal agents on Jan. 8, 2015, Hicks admitted that he was involved in marriage fraud for approximately 13 years, and that he received payments to marry undocumented African women and to find willing United States citizens to marry illegal aliens for the purpose of allowing the women to establish legal status in the United States.
In addition, on at least one occasion, Hicks was still married to one spouse at the time of his marriage to another spouse. Hicks also fraudulently claimed on an immigration form submitted on behalf of one of his spouses, that he had only one former spouse and that he had only petitioned for immigration benefits for the one former spouse, when, in fact, Hicks had actually been married five times and submitted requests for immigration benefits for a number of his former spouses.
The charge of marriage fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Peter C. Fitzhugh, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Boston; and Denis C. Riordan, District Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, District 1, made the announcement.
8:1325(c) MARRIAGE FRAUD
§1325. Improper entry by alien
(a) Improper time or place; avoidance of examination or inspection; misrepresentation and concealment of facts
Any alien who (1) enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers, or (2) eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers, or (3) attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact, shall, for the first commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, for a subsequent commission of any such offense, be fined under title 18, or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
(b) Improper time or place; civil penalties
Any alien who is apprehended while entering (or attempting to enter) the United States at a time or place other than as designated by immigration officers shall be subject to a civil penalty of—
(1) at least $50 and not more than $250 for each such entry (or attempted entry); or
(2) twice the amount specified in paragraph (1) in the case of an alien who has been previously subject to a civil penalty under this subsection.
Civil penalties under this subsection are in addition to, and not in lieu of, any criminal or other civil penalties that may be imposed.
(c) Marriage fraud
Any individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or fined not more than $250,000, or both.
(d) Immigration-related entrepreneurship fraud
Any individual who knowingly establishes a commercial enterprise for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws shall be imprisoned for not more than 5 years, fined in accordance with title 18, or both.
09/11/2018 43 Electronic Clerk's Notes for proceedings held before District Judge Timothy S. Hillman: Rule 11 Hearing as to Peter Joseph Hicks held on 9/11/2018, Case called, Counsel and dft (on bail) appear for Rule 11 Hearing, Dft changes plea of not-guilty and enters a plea of GUILTY as to count 1, Plea entered by Peter Joseph Hicks (1) Guilty Count 1, ( Sentencing set for 12/4/2018 at 3:00 PM in Courtroom 2 - Worcester before District Judge Timothy S. Hillman), Procedural order re sentencing to issue, Dft released on current conditions of release, (Attorneys present: Tobin/Cruz)Court Reporter Name and Contact information: Marianne Kusa-Ryll at email@example.com. (Castles, Martin) (Entered: 09/11/2018)
09/11/2018 44 District Judge Timothy S. Hillman: ORDER entered. PROCEDURAL ORDER re sentencing hearing as to Peter Joseph Hicks. Sentencing set for 12/4/2018 at 3:00 PM in Courtroom 2 - Worcester before District Judge Timothy S. Hillman. (Castles, Martin) (Entered: 09/11/2018)