Couple Charged in Marriage Fraud Scheme

PITTSBURGH, PA -A Nigerian citizen residing in the Pittsburgh area and a resident of Newark, NJ have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

The one-count indictment, returned on July 11 and unsealed yesterday, named:

• Monsuru Ogunbiyi, age 36, of Pittsburgh, PA 15227 (Whitehall); and

• Ajia Strauss, age 28, of Newark, NJ 07017.

According to the indictment presented to the court, from June 2016, to March 2019, Monsuru Ogunbiyi and Ajia Strauss conspired with one another to defraud the United States. Ogunbiyi, a native and citizen of Nigeria, and Strauss, a native and citizen of the United States, agreed to enter into a sham marriage so that Ogunbiyi could obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States. As part of the conspiracy, Ogunbiyi agreed to pay money to Strauss, including $1,500 on the day of their June 3, 2016, marriage in New Jersey. Also as a part of the conspiracy, Ogunbiyi and Strauss submitted false and fraudulent statements and documents to the United States.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than five years in prison, a fine of not more than $250,000, or both, for the charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendants.

Assistant United States Attorney Mary McKeen Houghton is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Department of Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.