Federal Authorities Still Seeking Suspects In Cherokee Marriage Fraud Case

Jul 7, 2017

The FBI arrested seven Cherokee residents last month following an investigation into marriage fraud, and authorities are still looking for four others they allege were involved. BPR’s Davin Eldridge has more…

When U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced that her office was charging twelve individuals from Jackson and Swain Counties, only seven were arrested that same day. Since then, one additional person has come forward, and all have since been released on $25,000 unsecured bonds. However, today Westmoreland Rose’s office confirms that authorities are still looking for four of the remaining individuals named in the indictment—all of which are non-U.S. citizens.Those suspects are as follows: Ilya Dostanov, Ievganii Reint, Shaul Levy and Yana Peltz. BPR has not yet received confirmation of their countries of origin. Federal authorities claim fifty-seven-year-old Ruth McCoy, deputy superintendent of the Cherokee Bureau of Indian Affairs, would work together with residents of Cherokee and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to connect American citizens with foreign nationals hopeful of improved immigration status through marriage. The indictment also alleges that McCoy, along with her husband, would sometimes act as sponsors of these sham  marriages—held in Sevier County Tennessee—for fees as much as $3,000 per wedding. In most cases, authorities claim the non-citizens would then apply for adjustments to their immigration status in order to improve their case for citizenship.