CHICAGO —(ENEWSPF)–February 22, 2016. A Kane County woman was convicted of witness tampering today for impeding a wide-ranging federal investigation into visa fraud and a sham marriage she had arranged for a Mongolian relative.
After a five-day trial in federal court in Chicago, the jury convicted ENKHCHIMEG ULZIIBAYAR EDWARDS, also known as “Eni Edwards,” on two counts of witness tampering and two counts of making false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch of the United States government. Each count of witness tampering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while the false statement counts each carry a maximum sentence of five years.
The jury trial was conducted before Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, who sat in the district court by designation. Judge Posner scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 26, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
Edwards, 38, of Carpentersville, is a U.S. citizen of Mongolian descent. Evidence at trial revealed that she arranged a sham marriage in 2003 to allow her cousin, a Mongolian immigrant, to marry Edwards’ friend and seek permanent residency in the United States. In 2008 she served as the vice president of the American Mongolian Association and personally vouched for Mongolians attempting to enter the United States.
Edwards subsequently was hired as an officer of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In her employment application and background check, Edwards denied having close or continuing contact with foreign nationals.
During her time at CBP, Edwards was assigned to a team of federal law enforcement authorities conducting a broad investigation into visa fraud involving Mongolian immigrants. In the course of the investigation, authorities began looking into the role that Edwards played in the sham marriage. On at least two occasions during the investigation, Edwards attempted to corruptly persuade her friend to lie to investigators regarding the true reason for marrying Edwards’ cousin.
The jury verdict was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. The investigation was carried out by the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service Chicago Field Office. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General assisted in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant United States Attorneys Peter S. Salib and Megan Cunniff Church.