A Nigerian pastor, Joshua Olatokunbo Shonubi, has been indicted for conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud, by a Federal Grand Jury in Maryland, United States.
The indictment on the 50-year-old pastor was announced by
The United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; and District Director Gregory L. Collett of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The pastor of New Life City Church in Maryland, who made his first court appearance on Thursday, October 21, 2021, is accused of leading a scheme to fraudulently obtain permanent resident status for foreign nationals by arranging marriages to U.S. citizens.
He’s alleged to have arranged approximately 60 fraudulent marriages for foreign nationals and American citizens between 2014 and 2021, receiving thousands of dollars to facilitate the marriages.
According to the seven-count indictment, Shonubi allegedly recruited and groomed American citizens, including economically disadvantaged citizens, with payments and promises of money in exchange for helping the foreign nationals acquire permanent residency through the sham marriages, some of which he officiated.
The indictment alleged that the suspect submitted reference letters on official church letterhead to a federal government agency, in support of foreign nationals’ applications for permanent residence.
The District of Maryland’s Department of Justice in a statement said, “On at least 34 occasions, Shonubi also allegedly created false rental leases, listing Jaypro, a corporation he formed in 2015, as landlord, to provide proof that the foreign national and U.S. citizen were living together, when in fact, they were living separately.”
If convicted, Shonubi faced a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit visa fraud and marriage fraud and a maximum of five years in federal prison for each of six counts of presenting false documents to a federal government agency.