Russian Man Guilty of Paying Maine Teen to Marry Him
A Russian man is now awaiting sentencing, after being convicted of several charges related to visa fraud and the Maine teen he paid to marry him.
Alexander Gormatov entered the U.S. in 2009, on a student/work visa and then adjusted that to an academic visa when he began attending Southern Maine Community College. In 2011, he met 17-year-old Raeanna Johnson, through a Craigslist employment ad. Justice.gov reports that it was a few months later, when Johnson was 18-years-old, that he paid her to marry him in order to stay in the country. He then quit going to school.
The 'couple' underwent an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in South Portland in 2013, during which they falsely claimed to be living as husband and wife. They managed to convince the interviewees and Gormatov was given conditional lawful permanent United States residence status.
In 2014, Raeanna gave birth to a child she had conceived with her actual live-in boyfriend, but Gormatov's name was put on the birth certificate. A year later, the Russian filed a petition to remove the conditions of his permanent residence status, accompanied by a copy of the child's falsified birth certificate. He left the U.S. and returned to Russia in 2017, when he learned he was under investigation. Gormatov returned two years later with a paternity form for the child that had been filed in Latvia.
At the trial, Johnson testified that Gormatov told her to 'just trust him' because these types of marriages happen all the time and no one would care.
Gormatov faces up to 15 years in prison for the charges connected to the visa fraud. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 per count. No date has been set for his sentencing.