A 71-year-old woman accused of recruiting family members to marry foreigners seeking green cards plead guilty Wednesday to taking part in an immigration fraud conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors said Maria Refugia Camarillo, of Fort Worth, Texas, faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced in September. She also must provide a $35,000 lien on her home.
Investigators said that from the 1980s until last year, Camarillo and others ran a scheme in which U.S. citizens would marry foreigners willing to pay up to $12,000. Once married, the U.S. citizen could petition for their foreign spouse to receive U.S. permanent residence, also called a green card, and later U.S. citizenship.
Camarillo pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit fraud in connection with immigration documents. She and 15 other family members were charged in a 29-count indictment.
Camarillo recruited her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews into the conspiracy. The indictment was dismissed against one defendant, but the remainder have pleaded guilty and most are awaiting sentencing, federal prosecutors said.
The U.S. attorney's office said Camarillo coached the couples on how to appear like a legitimate marriage. She also admitted recruiting three of her grandchildren when they were minors to marry green card seekers.
Camarillo obtained fake identities for some defendants who were U.S. citizen spouses to help the scam from being detected.