JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Eight sailors were charged Tuesday with arranging sham marriages to Polish and Romanian women to help the women obtain U.S. citizenship and to collect bigger military housing allowances for themselves.
In all, the eight sailors received $35,000 in fraudulent basic housing allowance payments, investigators said. One sailor was allegedly getting $1,836 per month.
Basic housing allowance is a tax-free payment that active-duty members of the U.S. military receive to offset their housing costs if they do not live on base. The amount is based on location, marital status and the number of dependents.
One of the women, a Polish nanny, was also charged, and authorities were seeking seven other women, six of them Polish and one Romanian.
Each paid $6,000 for the weddings to the sailors so they could petition for U.S. citizenship, according to U.S. Attorney Paul Perez.
The NCIS investigation began last September when a Navy petty officer assigned to the Kennedy was approached by a seaman from the Simpson with the opportunity to receive a basic housing allowance for marrying a Polish woman.
The seaman who arranged the marriage was to receive $6,000 from the woman and the petty officer was to receive the basic housing allowance, officials said.
Five of the sailors appeared Tuesday in federal court in Jacksonville. They were released after each signed a $10,000 unsecured bond.
Four of them face charges of conspiracy to enter into a fraudulent marriage and conspiracy to present false claims to the government: Isaac Gordon Bell, 22, of Susanville, Calif.; Joe Conn, 23, of Little Rock, Ark.; Isidro Cruz III, 22, of Newark, N.J; and Horatio Alexander King, 34, of San Diego. The other, Ryan Timothy Dodge, 22, of Joliet, Ill., faces one charge of conspiracy to enter into a fraudulent marriage.
Former sailor Timothy Richard McNomee, 21, also appeared in court on the two charges, as did Monika Kubaczka, 27, who works as a nanny in Ponte Vedra Beach. The two were married last year but never lived together, officials said.
Two other sailors charged in the case are on deployment with the USS Simpson off the coast of Italy.