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Kent man sentenced for homosexual immigration fraud
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Kent man sentenced for homosexual immigration fraud

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Steven Mahoney, a man accused of advising straight immigrants to claim homosexuality when they applied for asylum, was sentenced to 18 months in prison last week. Mahoney's ex-wife Helena received a six-month prison sentence for her role in the fraud case. Both are naturalized U.S. citizens from Russia.

Mahoney, a man who described himself as "an expert in immigration affairs," ran Mahoney and Associates in Kent. For nine years, the company advised immigrants who were looking for a way to stay in the U.S. to claim they were homosexual and say they would face potential persecution in their home countries unless granted asylum.

In April, Mahoney pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and admitted to filing as many as 99 false immigration applications.

"This type of behavior will not be tolerated," said U.S. District Judge John Coughenour. He said the sentences should send a message to the community.

According to the indictment in the case, Mahoney also advised others to claim discrimination over religious beliefs. He was paid up to $4,000 for each false application he filed.

In one instance, involving an individual identified as A.K., Mahoney is accused of advising him to say on immigration applications that he was Gay and that the militia in his country had attempted to rape his wife because of his sexual orientation. Mahoney's wife Helena is said to have helped the man obtain "documents about the Gay community to assist A.K. in preparing for his asylum interview," the indictment said.

G.V., another immigrant, reportedly submitted documents to immigration officials saying he was afraid he would be maimed if he returned to his homeland. In truth, the indictment said G.V. "was not afraid of such maiming."

In seeking prison time, federal prosecutors said persecution of Gays and Jews in Eastern Europe is real.

"By advising immigrants to falsely claim that they were Gay or Jewish, the Mahoneys diminished the chances of those who genuinely seek asylum for those reasons," prosecutions said in a news release.

It's unclear whether or not any of the immigrants mentioned in the indictment were granted asylum status and allowed to stay in the U.S.

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