NEW BERN, N.C. – This past Friday, a federal jury convicted 43-year-old Barbara Oppong of Bronx, New York on charges of naturalization fraud, conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and theft of government property.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that in February of 2019, a tipster alerted Fort Bragg U.S. Army CID (Criminal Investigation Division) that Samuel Agyapong, a U.S. citizen and soldier, was engaged in a sham marriage with Barbara Oppong, a citizen of Ghana who was unlawfully present in the United States. Agyapong agreed to engage in the sham marriage in exchange for and upfront $10,000.00 in cash and the benefit of additional Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) funds he would receive from the Army for having a dependent spouse. Oppong would obtain a lawful permanent resident card, commonly known as a green card. Agyapong and Oppong were married in New York in January 2015.
Thereafter, Agyapong and Oppong submitted fraudulent applications to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requesting Oppong’s adjustment of status as a lawful permanent resident in the United States, which she received. Based on the marriage to Agyapong, Oppong then filed an application for U.S. citizenship. Over the course of this sham marriage, roughly $110,000 of undeserved BAH was paid out by the U.S. Army.
Additional evidence presented at the trial showed that Oppong resided in New York, and Agyapong purchased a residence in Fayetteville, and they seldom, if ever, travelled to see each other nor had they engaged in an actual marital union. Further, evidence revealed that around the time Oppong and Agyapong were married and filed the applications, they omitted the fact that Oppong had two children with another man.
Agyapong was separately tried at a prior trial in which he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison and restitution of more than $110,000. As a result of this past Friday’s conviction, Oppong faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison at her own sentencing hearing scheduled for the November 15th term of court.
Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan accepted the verdict. The Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) in the Eastern District of North Carolina led by Homeland Security Investigations and assisted by the Diplomatic Security Service and U.S. Army CID investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabriel J. Diaz is prosecuting the case.
Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:19-CR-00423-FL-6