Woman gets 3 years for sham marriages

TACOMA – A Federal Way woman was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison Monday after she was convicted of setting up sham marriages between U.S. citizens and Cambodian nationals.

In January, a jury convicted Vuthy Sim, 35, of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, three counts of visa fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, three counts of money laundering and concealing an illegal immigrant, according to a news release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors alleged Sim recruited participants in the marriage scheme starting in June 2002. The purpose was to get Cambodian nationals visas so they could come to the United States. The U.S. citizen would go to Cambodia and pose for pictures with the spouse-to-be. Sim would then prepare the immigration paperwork, have the U.S. citizen sign it and submit it to authorities.

Each couple would have a civil wedding service in the U.S. once the Cambodian national arrived. Sim and her family members typically served as the witnesses. Sim got money from the Cambodian nationals and then would pay the U.S. citizen $20,000, in installments, for the assistance, the news release states. During trial, prosecutors argued Sim earned $160,000 through the scheme.

Sim also was convicted of illegally concealing an immigrant. Prosecutors contended that she sponsored her “mother” to come to the U.S. The person who came actually was her sister. The sister has since fled to Cambodia, the news release states.

U.S. District Judge James Robart sentenced Sim on Monday morning to two years, nine months in prison and to three years of supervised release. The judge called the scheme “troublesome and serious,” the attorney’s office reported.

Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268