PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WEAR) — Fraud conspirators from the Panama City area have pleaded guilty and are set to be sentenced.
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice, 47-year-old Ravi Babu Kolla, an Indian foreign national who lives in Panama City, pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud.
He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, the release said.
On Tuesday, his co-defendant 40-year-old Krystal Cloud was sentenced to 24 months in prison for marriage and visa fraud conspiracy after pleading guilty on December 28, 2018, the release said.
The release says between February 2017 and August 2018, Kolla operated an immigration marriage fraud business in Bay County which recruited U.S. citizens to marry Indian foreign nationals to gain immigration benefits.
Most of the Indian foreign nationals overstayed their Visas or Student Exchange Visitor Program Requirements and were in the U.S. illegally, the release states.
The investigation identified over 80 fraudulent marriages that were performed in Alabama as part of Kolla's scheme, the release says.
The release also reveals Cloud began recruiting U.S. citizens to marry foreign nationals - and directly recruited or participated in the recruitment of ten or more U.S. citizens from around Panama City and Calhoun and Jackson Counties.
She also helped gather person information so Kolla could create fraudulent immigration forms in order for the Indian foreign nationals to remain in the United States, the release says.
Kolla is being detained and his sentencing hearing is set for May 22 at 11:00 a.m. at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee.
He is facing a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud and a maximum of 20 years in prison for money laundering conspiracy.