Jefferson City attorney, two women sentenced for marriage fraud
JEFFERSON CITY – A U.S. District judge sentenced a Jefferson City attorney and two women Monday in two separate marriage fraud conspiracies dating back to 2005.
James Douglas Barding, a 63-year-old attorney from Jefferson City pleaded guilty in August 2015 to enlisting a friend, identified as T.D., to marry Ukrainian citizen, Darya Chernova. The judge sentenced him to one month in prison followed by one year supervised release and ordered to pay a $3,000 fine.
Chernova also pleaded guilty in August 2015 and the judge sentenced her to three years of probation that includes 100 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.
Barding, a married man, was having an affair with Chernova and arranged to have her marry T.D. for the sole purpose of keeping her in the United States and obtaining citizenship.
Chernova entered the U.S. on a student visa. Barding convinced T.D. that if he married Chernova, he could divorce her once she became a legal citizen. The couple was married on March 13, 2005 in Cape Girardeau and Barding acted as a witness to the wedding.
Chernova and T.D. never lived together but falsified documents claiming they shared an apartment in Jefferson City and had joint accounts and bills.
About nine months after the fraudulent marriage, Chernova gave birth to Barding’s child. A year later, Chernova gave birth to another child by Barding, which she falsely claimed on immigration forms and on the birth certificate was the biological child of T.D.
Barding admitted to meeting with Chernova and T.D. on April 20, 2010, the day before they were scheduled to be questioned by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The following day, Barding drove the couple to the interview in St. Louis. During the interview, Chernova gave false statements after guidance from Barding.
T.D.’s ex-girlfriend contacted law enforcement and the Missouri Bar because she believed that Barding was conspiring with Chernova in her false marriage to T.D. so that he could continue his affair with her.
In a separate case, a U.S. District Judge ordered the second woman sentenced, Patricia Anne Ewalt, to three years of probation and a $1,000 fine for another marriage fraud conspiracy.
Ewalt, 64, pleaded guilty in August 2015 to her role in committing marriage fraud so that another Ukrainian national residing in Jefferson City could stay in the United States. A judge sentenced 35-year-old Oleksander Nikolayevich Druzenko, the co-defendant in the case, in November 2015 to time served.
Druzenko and Ewalt were married on June 2007 in Jefferson City before Druzenko’s student visa expired.
The couple did not live together but falsified documents to deceive the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services into believing their marriage was genuine.