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‘Haitian diplomat in fake wedding scam’

A Haitian diplomat allegedly provided fake documents for two of his compatriots involved in a marriage fraud scam, a court heard.

Bahamian Bradley Smith, who served as a middleman, told police that the diplomat would give him receipts to collect fraudulent documents for Haitians, who planned to enter marriages of convenience.

In August, the scandal led to the recall of three of the diplomatic staff to Haiti following a commission of inquiry into corruption claims involving the issuance of Haitian visas.

The probe began after Haitians Willy Exama and Anslene Nicolas applied for resident spousal permits on July 11 following sham marriages to Bahamians Bridney Johnson and Bernard Musgrove.

Immigration officers became suspicious when they noticed irregularities in the Haitians’ passports, the prosecutor said.

Further checks revealed that there was no record of them being admitted into the country, although they held Haitian visas.

Smith was arrested in the parking lot of the immigration department and police found several marriage certificates in his car, the court heard.

Exama and Johnson pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud by false pretenses, fraud by false pretenses regarding their marriage licenses and fraudulent marriage when they appeared before Assistant Chief Magistrate Subusola Swain yesterday.

Exama said that he paid Smith $2,300 to find him a bride, the court heard.

Johnson, who had fallen on hard times, was paid just $1,000 for the marriage, which is about to be annulled, her lawyer Bjorn Ferguson said.

Swain ordered them each to pay fines totaling $4,500 to avoid spending 12 months in prison.

Exama, who said he doesn’t have the money to pay the fine, has been given credit for the four months he had already spent on remand.

Smith pleaded guilty to facilitating fraudulent marriages on Tuesday and paid fines of $6,000 to avoid spending a year in prison.

He was supposed to testify against Exama and Johnson yesterday before they decided to admit guilt.

The magistrate chastised Smith and Johnson for “selling” their country.

Swain remarked that no official from the embassy came to check on Exama.

Last month, Nicolas and Musgrove admitted entering sham marriages and they were fined $4,200 or three months in the same court.

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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