JACKSON & SWAIN COUNTIES
Enterprising couple Ruth McCoy and Timothy Taylor had an idea for making extra money on the side. They partnered with Ofir Marsiano and Golan Perez, who recruited non-citizens wanting, for whatever reason, to expedite their immigration process. McCoy and Taylor, in turn, recruited citizens the non-citizens could wed. The citizens were paid $1,500 to get married in ceremonies that took place in Sevier, Tennessee. Following the ceremonies, the non-citizens would apply to change their immigration status, and McCoy and Taylor would serve as their sponsors. For that, they received roughly another $1,500 per client, and they appeared to make even more money navigating further stages of the process. The only problem was, what they were doing is illegal. In June, seven of twelve participants were rounded up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of marriage fraud and/or conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. United States Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Jill Westmoreland Rose said the marriages are deemed a sham because, “there’s no affection or love… it’s solely a business transaction.” Depending on the individual charges, the participants could face 10 to 25 years in prison. At presstime they had been released on bond, with arraignment hearings scheduled for later.