Man pleads guilty to arranging hundreds of sham marriages

BOSTON — A man from Los Angeles pleaded guilty to arranging hundreds of sham marriages “for the primary purpose of circumventing immigration law, federal prosecutors said.

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Marcialito Biol Benitez also known as Mars, 49, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and immigration document fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said. He was arrested in April 2022.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said, according to The Associated Press, that Benitez was operating a fraud agency where he would arrange marriages between American citizens and foreign nationals. He reportedly charged fees between $20,000 to $35,000 in order to submit false paperwork.

Benitez worked from an office in Los Angeles and he allegedly had staff members recruit American citizens for the marriages, the AP reported.

After the agency matched the American citizens and foreign nationals, they would hold fake weddings at chapels and other locations.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, authorities believe that the agency arranged at least 600 sham marriages and submitted fraudulent immigration documents between Oct. 2016 and March 2022.

He is the seventh defendant to plead guilty in this case.

Benitez is scheduled for sentencing on Jan 10. He is facing up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine, the U.S. attorney’s office said.