- - Tuesday, July 26, 2011


14 indicted on sham marriage charges

SACRAMENTO — A federal grand jury in Sacramento has indicted 14 people on charges of arranging sham marriages to immigrants from Russia, Ukraine and Eastern European nations to help them stay in the United States, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner said Tuesday.

The indictment was unsealed after the man charged with being the ringleader, Sergey Potepalov, 55, was arrested Monday at his home in Citrus Heights.

He and the others had “made a business out of marriage fraud” since 2002, arranging at least nine marriages to circumvent immigration laws, Mr. Wagner said. They attempted at least 39 marriages, although not all were included in the indictment, said Dan Lane, assistant special agent in charge of the Department of Homeland Security investigations office in Sacramento.

Foreign nationals paid up to $10,000 to Mr. Potepalov and an associate, Keith O’Neil, 44, of Sacramento, to arrange for the marriages, and U.S. citizens who agreed to the marriages were paid up to several thousand dollars, Mr. Wagner said.


Mom gets probation in son’s jaywalking death

MARIETTA — A Georgia woman received a year of probation Tuesday in the jaywalking death of her 4-year-old son, but the judge also made the unusual move of offering her a chance to clear her name at a new trial. The mother of two surviving children says she’s satisfied with the outcome of the hearing.

Raquel Nelson was convicted by a jury this month of vehicular homicide for crossing a busy street outside the crosswalk with her children in April 2010. She could have received as many as three years in prison, which would have been a much longer sentence than the one for the hit-and-run driver who struck the boy. There has been outcry over Miss Nelson’s charges and conviction.


Dozens wade to shore after tour boat is damaged

EMPIRE — Authorities say dozens of people waded to shore and two were rescued by helicopter from a tour boat that was damaged by a wave in Lake Michigan.

The Coast Guard says the operator of the tour boat Pictured Rocks called for help shortly before 8:30 p.m. Monday after a wave reportedly went over the boat’s bow, smashing a window and causing electronics to malfunction. The boat had 61 people aboard.

No major injuries were reported. The Coast Guard says waves in the area were 2- to 4-feet high at the time.

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