Ukrainian woman pleads guilty to marriage fraud in Jefferson City
JEFFERSON CITY - A Ukrainian woman pleaded guilty to marriage fraud in order to stay in the U.S., prosecutors said Monday.
According to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, 40-year-old Darya Chernova admitted to the whole ordeal.
Co-defendant, 62-year-old James Douglas Barding of Jefferson City, previously pleaded guilty to participating in the same conspiracy.
Prosecutors said Chernova used to live a couple blocks away from Barding and his wife. During that time, Chernova and Barding had and affair which resulted in two children.
According to prosecutors, Chernova falsely named another man, who was her legal husband, as the father of one of her kids. Prosecutors also said Cherenova never lived with her legal husband and the only purpose for their marriage was so she could evade immigration laws and stay in the U.S. with Barding.
DNA results confirm Barding is the biological father of Chernova's children and was awarded custody.
Chernova appeared in front of an officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on two separate occasions in 2010, prosecutors said. On both occasions, in agreement with Barding, Chernova testified under oath that her legal husband was the father of her baby despite knowing Barding was the biological father.
Chernova also testified, following Barding's advice, that her legal residence was with her husband, according to prosecutors.
Both Chernova and Barding could face up to five years in prison without parole and a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing has not been scheduled.
Because Chernova pleaded guilty to the marriage fraud, her removal from the U.S. is presumed mandatory, prosecutors said.