Clever, but illegal tgingerA photo from the Thai ginger website.

It looks very much like Thai restaurateur Varee Bradford is doing a thriving business in the US state of Washington. She operates five Thai Ginger restaurants in Seattle and its suburbs and each appears to well-designed, clean and attractive.

Her biggest problem, it seems has been finding enough legal Thai workers to keep them going. Her solution was a clever scheme to marry Thai nationals off temporarily to Thai ginger workers who have US citizenship.

Altogether she was able to arrange at least four such marriages for Thai citizens, three of whom were Ms Bradford’s own relatives.

It was expensive but worth it, she thought. Ms Bradford paid three of her US-citizen workers US$10,000 (340,000 baht) to more than $20,000, while another, who had recently been promoted to management, received a loan of $3,780. All were apparently told that the marriages would only have to last two years, until the Thai nationals received their green cards.

The scheme may have been clever, but it was very likely illegal. Arranging a temporary marriage for immigration purposes is against US law.

On Tuesday (yesterday Thai time), Ms Bradford was arrested at her home on one count of immigration fraud conspiracy and three counts of immigration document fraud. She pleaded not guilty in a US District Court and was released awaiting her trial.

Assistant US Attorney Jill Otake said after the court hearing that authorities believe the US citizens knew the sham marriages were illegal and more charges could be forthcoming.

Ms Otake said Ms Bradford’s motives were financial as the scheme allowed her relatives to remain in the US and continue working at her restaurant.

If convicted, Ms Bradford could face several years in jail. She may also lose much of her property to the government.

Adapted from an AP story in today’s Bangkok Post.

illegal – against the law
restaurateur – someone who owns or manages a restaurant
thriving – very successful
suburb – an area or town near a large city but away from its centre
attractive – pleasant to look at
scheme – a plan for achieving something, especially something illegal or dishonest
temporarily – only for a limited time; not permanent
citizenship – the legal right to be a citizen of a particular country
promote – to move someone to a job at a higher level
loan – an amount of money that a person, business or country borrows
national – a citizen of a particular country
immigration – the process in which people enter a country in order to live there permanently
count – each crime someone is accused of
fraud – the crime of producing false documents or information in order to get what you want
conspiracy – a secret plan by a group of people to do something bad or illegal
plead not guilty – to formally tell a court of law that you did not commit the crime you are accused of
release – to allow someone to go free
trial – the process of examining a case in a court of law and deciding whether someone is guilty (having committed a crime) or innocent (not having committed a crime)
US attorney – a lawyer for the US government
sham – something that people pretend is good, serious, or honest but is really not
charge – an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime
forthcoming – happening or coming soon
motive – a reason for doing something
convicted – proven in a court of law to have committed a crime

Posted by Terry Fredrickson at 09:31 AM


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