The Sacramento Bee today has a lengthy front-page piece on the new sham marriage fraud case noting that
The prosecution of Potepalov and 13 others, announced a week ago, is the first of its kind in eastern California, "and one of our agency's major cases," [DHS Agent] Lane said. The 5-year-old investigation is ongoing, he added.
Is that right? I thought there had been at least one prior EDCA marriage fraud case. While most of the article is about the lead defendant Potepalov, here's a bit near the end about one of the other defendants:
Attorney Hayes Gable III, who represents O'Neil, said his client has been miscast as a heavy in Potepalov's enterprise.
"When I heard about this case, I expected some slick operator living large," the veteran defense lawyer said. "Then when I met him, I thought they brought out the wrong guy.
"He lives on the street behind the Valero gas station at Madison and Auburn. He hangs out at a recycling center, where he takes the bottles and cans he picks out of the trash in Dumpsters and barrels. That's his income. Does that sound like a big-time crook?"
In fact, according to Lane, it was at that recycling center that O'Neil was arrested last week, and court documents portray O'Neil as a somewhat hapless co-conspirator.
He traveled to Moscow three times with Potepalov, journeys he described as "party trips mainly to drink and meet women," court documents state.