Three Lowcountry couples indicted, accused of getting married for immigration status

Three Lowcountry couples were federally indicted, accused of getting married only to keep someone in the country, according to a federal court document.

Indictments were filed against three married couples Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Charleston: Magdi Hassan Alian, 55, and 26-year-old Evette Dames; Mhana Tuqan and Cynthia Fransee-Tuqan; Nadezda Alexandraovna Stepanova and Rashed Mohammed Ali.

Alian is an Egyptian citizen who came to the U.S. in October 2007 on a temporary visa, the indictment stated.

In April 2008, Alian’s temporary visa expired, but he remained in the U.S. illegally, according to federal prosecutors.

Dames, who is a U.S. citizen originally from Germany, married Alian on Dec. 29, 2010, according to Charleston County marriage records.

The pair told immigration officials they lived at a Hugo Avenue home in North Charleston, but their marriage was a trick in order to keep Alian in the country, according to the indictment.

In the second case, Mhana Tuqan, who is from Jordan, came to the U.S. on a temporary visa in May 2007, according to prosecutors. In November 2007, Tuqan’s visa expired, but he remained illegally in the U.S., according to the indictment.

Cynthia Fransee-Tuqan, who is a U.S. citizen, married Tuqan on Jan. 3, 2011, in order for him to stay in the country, according to court records. The pair told immigration officials they lived at an apartment on Alexander Street in Charleston, court documents stated.

In the third case, Nadezda Alexsandrovna Stepanova, who is from Russia, came to the U.S. in May 2008 on a temporary visa but remained in the county after it expired in August 2008, according to the indictment.

She married Rashed Mohammed Ali on Sept. 1, 2011, in order to stay in the country, the indictment stated.

The three cases were all filed the same day in federal court.

Another connection appears in the date of the marriage applications in two of the couples. The Tuqans applied for the marriage license the same day as Alian and Dames: Dec. 29, 2010, according to Charleston County marriage records.

It’s unclear if any of the cases are related. Officials with the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment because the case is still pending.

Bench warrants have been issued for the three couple’s arrests, according to court records.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.

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