WATERLOO — Two Waterloo siblings have pleaded to marriage fraud charges in a plot to skirt immigration laws.
Selmir Salkanovic, 27, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud in U.S. District court in Cedar Rapids on Oct. 25. His sister, Sanela Dedic, pleaded Nov. 2.
Sentencing will be at a later date, and the charge carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Authorities allege Salkanovic married an unidentified United States citizen in 2017 after he was processed for overstaying his B-2 tourism visa that had expired in 2015 and risked being returned to Bosnia. Dedic is accused of offering to pay the woman $5,000.
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The marriage would have allowed Salkanovic to obtain conditional residency status which could have been upgraded to permanent residency after two years, according to court records.
Salkanovic and the bride lived apart after the June 2017 wedding and never consummated the marriage, according to court records. Dedic allegedly gave the woman five checks totaling $1,250 and an older model red Ford Taurus. She also asked the woman to fill out immigration paperwork that would allow Salkanovic to remain in the country and to attend an immigration hearing for him in Omaha, Neb., and she talked to the woman about becoming like best friends with Salkanovic until immigration officials back off.
The woman filled out a Petition for Alien Relative and wrote a letter of support of change in immigration status in July 2017.
A federal grand jury indicted the siblings in October.