Updated: March 7, 2021
An American woman Ajia Strauss has been found guilty for entering into what authorities said was a ‘sham marriage’ with Nigerian Monsuru Ogunbiyi so he could become a U.S. citizen. Ogunbiyi previously pleaded guilty and is likely to be deported, according to court papers.
The 28-year-old New Jersey woman admitted she accepted $1,500 from the 36-year old Southwest Nigerian man to marry him in New Jersey on June 3, 2016.
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western Pennsylvania said in a statement that Ajia Strauss, who is from Newark in New Jersey, pleaded guilty in federal court in Pittsburgh to conspiracy to defraud the United States. Authorities said after the ‘sham marriage’, Ogunbiyi did not stay with the woman in New Jersey. He was already living in western Pennsylvania and returned there immediately after the wedding ceremony, raising the alarm the whole thing was fake.
Court papers said the next year, Ogunbiyi used Strauss’ Newark address when he began the process of becoming a citizen.
The two also exchanged texts on multiple occasions so they could learn about one another, opened a joint bank account and took staged photos of themselves together ahead of an appearance before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Strauss is scheduled to be sentenced in Pittsburgh on June 3. She could face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, authorities said.