Syrian Immigrant Charged In Alleged Sham Marriage

CLEVELAND (AP) - A Syrian immigrant arrested by federal authorities in September was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday in an alleged sham marriage.

Mohammed I. Refai, 40, of Akron, was charged with one count of marriage fraud, five counts of immigration document fraud and two counts of lying to federal agents.

The indictment said Refai was married April 27, 1998, to an American to allow him to remain in the United States.

Refai also was charged with filing numerous documents between 1998 and 2000 falsely specifying that he hadn't married for immigration purposes.

Each charge carries a possible five-year prison term, said U.S. Attorney Emily Sweeney.

The woman he married, Susan Hinzman of Cleveland, has been charged with lying to the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1999, when she told officials that she and Refai lived together in Cleveland.

Hinzman could not be reached for comment Wednesday. She does not have a listed telephone number.

Refai, who operated a gas station in Akron, was jailed on immigration charges a week after the Sept. 11 terror attacks amid stricter immigration oversight.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)