An Alabama man today goes on trial on marriage fraud charges, and the state’s controversial immigration law may play an indirect role.
Prosecutors want to introduce evidence that defendant Andreas Andresean
Jr.’s wife, Katerina Petrasova, arranged a sham marriage between her
boyfriend and another woman. Petrasova, according to a court filing by
prosecutors, was concerned that her boyfriend would be deported because
of the tough immigration law passed the state Legislature last year.
Before testimony in the case against Andresean begins, U.S. District
Judge Ginny Granade will have to decide whether to allow the evidence
regarding Petrasova’s attempt to arrange a fraudulent marriage between
fellow Czech Republic native Dan Cejka and an American woman named
Sharon Hope Farrow.
Petrasova already has pleaded guilty
to marriage fraud and conspiracy charges, admitting that she arranged
to marry Andresean so that she could stay in the United States after the
expiration of her visitor’s visa.
Prosecutors argue that details
of Petrasova’s role in setting up the second marriage should be
admitted because it is inextricably intertwined in the current
allegations. Those facts are “necessary to complete the story of the
crime; that is, Petrasova entered into a fraudulent marriage with
Andresean to ultimately obtain her citizenship,” Assistant U.S. Attorney
Adam Overstreet wrote.
Andresean’s attorney, James Scroggins,
argues prosecutors should not be allowed to tell jurors about the second
marriage because his client had nothing to do with it. He noted that
there is no allegation that that Andresean even knew about the
conversations between Petrasova and Farrow.
attempt to arrange a separate and distinct marriage, two years later,
between two other individuals, is not part of the crime as charged in
the indictment,” he wrote.
Added Scroggins: “Neither is this evidence necessary to tell the complete story of the crime.”
to the prosecution filing, Petrasova asked Farrow if she had ever heard
of people paying for marriages. Overstreet wrote that she described
Cejka, her boyfriend of seven years, as the love of her life and told
Farrow that it was impractical for him to move to another state to avoid
Alabama’s immigration law because she and he recently had purchased a
house together in Gulf Shores and were planning to start a family.
Petrasova, according to the court filing, offered to pay Farrow $4,000
to marry Cejka and remain so for at least two years – the amount of time
a marriage to an American must last because a foreigner can obtain
Farrow initially turned down the offer but
agreed to the arrangement after Petrasova asked again in December,
Overstreet wrote. He stated that Farrow followed through with an
informal ceremony at the Pensacola courthouse in January.
Within a week, though, Farrow changed her mind and started taking steps to get the married annulled.
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