Democrat Ousted From NY Assembly Over Sham Marriage

Saturday, 28 Jun 2014 03:06 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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A Democratic New York assemblywoman has agreed to resign from her freshman term in office after pleading guilty to entering into a fraudulent marriage to fix her status as an immigrant.

Gabriela Rosa, of Manhattan, entered guilty pleas to two federal charges Friday of making false statements to immigration authorities and in a bankruptcy proceeding, reports The New York Times.

She admitted to Judge Denise Cote that she got married years ago to "regularize my immigration status," but "it was not a real marriage."

Rosa, who was a citizen of the Dominican Republic, faces up to 10 years in prison, but her plea agreement has set a recommendation for 12 to 18 months behind bars.

Prosecutors said the freshman lawmaker paid a U.S. citizen around $8,000 to marry her in 1996, prosecutors said. Meanwhile, Rosa remained involved romantically with a different man, who she married when she ended her false marriage after a few years.

As part of the plea agreement, Rosa is resigning from her Assembly seat representing the 72 District, including Washington Heights, Inwood and Marble Hill.

Rosa's crimes "cut to the heart of her legal qualification to serve the people of the State of New York as a New York State assemblywoman," Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said. "She gained the ability to run for that office only as a result of a years-long immigration fraud, and then she compounded her lack of fitness to serve by defrauding a federal bankruptcy court."

Rosa also admitted receiving $1,000 from a foreign government representative in connection with her election in violation of campaign finance laws. She said she will return the money.

Rosa was elected in 2012 and after her hearing Friday said her crimes took place before she took office.

"I didn’t get rich out of my position," she said. “I didn’t take any bribes. I didn’t do none of the things that usually you are very used to seeing in the other guys that get in this situation.”

Matthew Myers, her attorney, said that in general a great deal of political corruption is investigated in New York City, and investigators "maybe stumbled upon this. I can’t speak for their entire investigation, but obviously, she wasn’t a main target at the start of this investigation."

Rosa had been an outspoken supporter of immigrants' rights and in February, voted for the state's DREAM Act, to allow children of immigrants to apply for academic scholarships, reports Politico.

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