Local News

After marriage fraud, soldier will serve in Afghanistan, not in prison

Posted January 5, 2010

— A former Fort Bragg soldier who married a Russian woman in order to get her into the United States and claim higher benefits for himself was sentenced to probation Monday for the fraud.

Robert L. Cooper, lawyer for Stephen Schneider, argued that his client has been recalled to military service in Afghanistan and could only do so if he was not serving time. The judge agreed and sentenced Schneider to five years probation.

Schneider pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.

Authorities said Schneider and another man, Sgt. Wesly Farris, 23, each married Russian women in order to get higher pay and move off post.

After a civil ceremony, the women returned to New York, while the soldiers filed immigration papers for the women and personal requests for increased living allowances from the Army, authorities said.

Prosecutors said the marriage fraud cost the government at least $200,000 in wages and benefits. Col. Bill Buckner, a spokesman for the XVIII Airborne Corps, said the Army plans to pursue the excess benefits paid to the soldiers.

The women, Svetlana Kaloshina, who married Farris, and Tatyana Urazova, who married Schneider, are in jail awaiting their sentence and will likely be deported, according to their defense attorneys.

The men who arranged the marriages, brothers Alexander "Sasha" Manin and Pavel "Pasha" Manin, face federal conspiracy charges as well.
 

11 Comments

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  • Wake1 Jan 6, 11:03 a.m.

    Go to war or go to jail!!

  • 6079 SMITH W Jan 6, 10:53 a.m.

    How much money did these guys stiff the U.S. government for? If that is such a big issue, why aren't we stemming the flow of the BILLIONS lost every year by the care and feeding of MILLIONS of illegal immigrants, not to mention the BILLIONS of dollars that are siphoned out of our economy and sent to their home countries? And if you think these folks are "undocumented", think again....they have more documents than we do, and most of them are ours.

  • elcid liked Ike Jan 6, 10:23 a.m.

    "my point was the men could have easily collected the higher pay and housing allowances without committing a crime."

    Yes, but then they would potentially be exposed to the ugliness of property division in the divorce (as those women would be unlikely to agree to a prenuptial agreement) and be stuck with women who actually expected them to be husbands. While I do not agree at all with what they did, it would have been better for them to just find lesbians who were already in the military, work out a deal & a prenuptial, and just marry them instead.

  • scarletindurham Jan 6, 10:16 a.m.

    my point was the men could have easily collected the higher pay and housing allowances without committing a crime.

  • elcid liked Ike Jan 6, 10:00 a.m.

    "There are tons of perfectly wonderful single women right here in the good ol' USA! Go to Fayetteville - ALL the single ladies are looking for army husbands!"

    The goal here wasn't to find a wife, Stefany. It was to collect the increased pay that goes along with having a wife (for the men) and to be allowed to legally immigrate (for the women). Business transaction, nothing more.

  • scarletindurham Jan 6, 9:49 a.m.

    There are tons of perfectly wonderful single women right here in the good ol' USA! Go to Fayetteville - ALL the single ladies are looking for army husbands!

  • elcid liked Ike Jan 6, 9:37 a.m.

    "The Lautenberg Amendment of 1968 prohibits felons in civilian and military from owning or possessing a weapon."

    The Lautenberg Amendment (of 1996) to the Gun Control Act of 1968 makes it a felony only for those convicted of domestic violence from owning or possessing a weapon. It is not applicable to this scenario.

  • Myra Jan 6, 9:04 a.m.

    A person convicted of a ''felony'' cannot possess, own, or carry a weapon and/or ammunition. The U S Army keeps deploying men with guns who are convicted felons in violation of Federal Law: The Lautenberg Amendment of 1968 prohibits felons in civilian and military from owning or possessing a weapon.

  • SWEET-N-SOUR Jan 6, 8:51 a.m.

    I would like to know why the judge is not requiring the men to pay back our tax dollars.

  • clickclackity2 Jan 5, 7:00 p.m.

    Oh..well. It actually serves some men right to be dumped by their wives, after the wife gains the green card. It's too funny and sad in some cases, how some men drool over supposedly 'exotic' women, who really aren't exotic at all.But, this guy should've gotten jail time. Next thing you know he will turn into a double agent.

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