BRONX, N.Y. (WABC) — A Bronx woman facing felony charges after authorities say she got married 10 times in an apparent marriage scam was arrested after court Friday.
Authorities say Liana Barrientos, 39, and her niece Tracy Barrientos walked through the gate of a subway station at 149th Street and Grand Concourse and did not pay the fare.
They are charged with theft of service and criminal trespass.
Liana Barrientos had been arraigned earlier on two counts of filing a false instrument. She pleaded not guilty.
Those false instruments were an application for a marriage license and the signed marriage license itself, executed in the spring of 2010, which stated this was her first and only marriage. The groom was a man named Salle Keita, whom she wed March 4, 2010, according to the indictment.
Police believe she was marrying men to get them into the country and apparently wed nine times between 1999 and 2002, never bothering to legally change her name.
She is believed to be currently married to four people, and at one time, she was married to eight of them at the same time.
The case was brought to the attention of the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security’s Investigation Division.
They indicated that seven of the men are from so-called “red-flagged” countries, which included Egypt, Turkey, Georgia, Pakistan, and Mali.
Authorities say that in 2006, groom number eight Rashid Rajput was deported to his home country of Pakistan following an investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
Barientos lived in a Bronx building until recently with her boyfriend, a man who is apparently not one of the 10 men she is alleged to have married.
“This is a huge breach in security,” national security expert Manny Gomez said. “If someone could remarry 10 times without bringing it to the attention of the authorities, potentially an al-Qaeda plant could come in, marry this woman and be in this country illegally, plotting, recruiting, perhaps even executing a terrorist attack.”
Her history as a serial marrier started in November 1999 when she said I do with Mohammed Gerbril in Eastchester. Two years later, she married Ahmad Allam in Rye.
Then, just 18 days later, she went to Yonkers to marry Habibur Rahman. In the coming years, she would also get married in Hempstead, Ramapo, Greenburgh, Mamaroneck, White Plains and finally in the Bronx, where the previous nuptials were all discovered.
On each marriage license, she used her real Social Security number and various versions of her real name.
So how did she not get caught?
“From the Liberty Tower being penetrated by a 16-year-old child a few months ago to now, realizing that somebody could come in and legally belong to this country simply by paying somebody and getting legally married, yes, we still have a lot of work cut out for us,” Gomez said.
The men whom Barientos is alleged to have married, most without benefit of divorce, are identified as:
–Mohamed Gebril, of Egypt: Married November 1999, divorced in April of 2002
–Ahmed Allam, of Egypt: Married November 2001, divorced November of 2004
–Habibur Rahman, of Bangladesh: Married November 2001, currently married
–Davit Koridze, of Georgia: Married February 2002, currently married
–Duran Goktepe, of Turkey: Married March 2002, divorced in January of 2007
–Aliaksandr Paharelau, of Czechoslovakia: Married March 2002, possibly divorced in January of 2005
–Vakhtang Dzneladze, of Georgia: Married May 2002), divorced in February of 2007
–Rashid Rajput, of Pakistan: Married July 2002), currently married
–Kakhaber Khorbaladze, of Georgia: Married August 2002, divorced in August of 2007
–Salle Keita, of Mali: Married March 2010, currently married
Seven of the men filed for permanent status based on marriages to her.
“When some of them were denied they filed for divorce” and refiled for legal status using other marriages, Assistant District Attorney Jessica Lupo said.
In one case, Barrientos acknowledged “receiving money for her actions,” the prosecutor said.
But she also told Homeland Security that she had never seen nine of the men before, Lupo said.
If convicted, she faces up to four years in prison.
Liana Barrientos will dodge prison time for the apparent immigration scam if she completes a rehab program and stays out of trouble, according to the terms of the deal.
Barrientos, 40, pleaded guilty to a single felony count for lying that a 2010 marriage to a man named Salle Keita was her first trip down the aisle.
One of the husbands, from Pakistan, was later deported for making threatening statements against the U.S, authorities said.