Man avoids jail time for sham marriage immigration schemes

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man who entered into six sham marriages to help foreign-born women skirt U.S. immigration laws has avoided prison.

Federal prosecutors say 58-year-old Peter Hicks, of Worcester, was sentenced Tuesday to two years’ probation after an emotional plea to avoid prison. The government had asked for an 18-month term.

He pleaded guilty in September to one count of marriage fraud because the statute of limitations had run out on the first five.

Hicks’ lawyer argued his client cooperated with investigators and admitted his crimes nearly a decade before charges were filed.

Prosecutors say he was paid to enter into fraudulent marriages so the women from Africa could get green cards. Authorities say he falsely stated he was married only once before in his application for his sixth marriage.

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