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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 19, 2006

Jury indicts four in marriage scheme

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A federal grand jury has indicted four people, including a high school teacher, on charges they took part in a bogus marriage to allow the teacher's lover to remain in the U.S.

Bob Loren, 64, Hang Duan, 20, Julia Bivit-Padello, 43, and Shara Padello, 21, were charged Wednesday with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. Padello and Duan, also known as Dustin Duan, also were charged with visa fraud.

Duan, a citizen of China, is the only person in custody. All four are scheduled to be arraigned Monday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang.

Loren, Bivit-Padello and Padello could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court by Bruce Law, special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement:

Loren, an O'ahu high school teacher, met Duan when Loren was teaching English in China. The two began a romantic relationship and Loren told Duan they could go to the U.S., where Duan could marry a woman and receive immigration benefits.

Duan entered this country on June 7, 2005, and again on Sept. 21 on 90-day business visas, according to an affidavit. This type of visa does not allow a person to become a permanent resident, or "green card" holder, nor would it permit a person to go through naturalization proceedings.

Loren and Duan are accused of going to Bivit-Padello's barbershop in Wai'anae sometime between the two visits and asking her if she knew of anyone who would be willing to marry Duan so he could receive his green card and attend school full time. Bivit-Padello said yes and suggested her daughter, Shara Padello, the affidavit said.

Duan and Padello agreed to a "post-marital agreement," which Loren assisted in writing, the affidavit said. The document called for Padello to receive $1,000 for marrying Duan and another $5,000 when he received his green card.

Padello also was required to go to an interview with immigration officials to determine whether the marriage was genuine. The affidavit said Padello and Duan prepared a script and rehearsed so they could pass the interview.

On Aug. 22, 2005, Padello and Duan were married in a ceremony at a recreation area at the Crosspointe townhouse complex in Halawa. The couple had shopped for wedding rings and clothes for the ceremony to "further the impression that the marriage was legitimate," the affidavit said.

A reception at a Chinese restaurant at Stadium Mall followed the ceremony, and pictures were taken of the couple. Two months later Duan filed applications for an immigrant visa and to register as a permanent resident.

The court document does not reveal what led federal officials to suspect that the marriage may have been bogus. But for three days last November, agents conducted a surveillance of Loren's Salt Lake home and saw just the two men enter and leave the residence.

In January, agents interviewed Duan and Padello and they admitted that they never planned to live as husband and wife, the affidavit said.

Padello told Law that she lived with her boyfriend in Kane'ohe and also with her mother in Wai'anae, the document said. She said that the marriage was never consummated and that she planned to marry her boyfriend.

At an immigration hearing on April 25, Duan admitted he was guilty of the fraudulent marriage, the affidavit said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Hino declined to discuss the specifics of the case, but he did say the federal government takes these matters seriously.

"There certainly is heightened security concerns now about immigration and when these cases come up, we are going to prosecute them," Hino said.

A conviction on the charge of marriage fraud carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and $250,000 fine, while visa fraud carries up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.