Neighbor speaks out about the alleged marriage fraud ring-leader

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 14, 2010
By Claudia Coffey

LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) – The marriage fraud plot in which 23 local people were indicted on federal charges includes a sergeant at the Kentucky State Reformatory.

On Wednesday, the neighbor of one of the individuals told WHAS11 News she’s known for years about some of the unusual activity going on at one of the ring-leaders homes in Oldham County. She says that what she saw outside her home raised a red flag almost 10 years ago.

WHAS11’s Claudia Coffey has more on this story.

In Oldham County, Sherry Haley knew there was trouble next door, but couldn’t pin-point what it was.

“It’s just been very suspicious for years,” she says.

On Wednesday, she had answers.

Haley’s neighbor, 57-year-old Vuthea Niev, who she knew as “T,” stands accused of being the ringleader in a massive fraud ring that the feds say arranged fake marriages between U.S. citizens and people from Cambodia.

Haley described “T” as friendly. He'd always wave and smile, but she says activities at the house were bizarre. One time she saw several women bathing outside with a garden hose.

“The flag went up as soon as the Asian women started bathing outside by the patio,” she says. “I stood there like this. They looked over and looked away. I just stood there shaking my head, thinking you can’t do this.”

She says they were completely naked.

Haley adds that there was a constant flow of women. Some looked to be teenagers coming and going from the house.

“There would be weeks at a time when there was no one there,” she says, “then all of sudden a woman or two with another child.”

“T” is one of 23 people indicted in the marriage fraud ring. According to the indictment, the deal worked like this: Americans from the region were recruited and paid up to $10,000 to travel to Cambodia and marry Cambodian nationals. The purpose was to obtain lawful residence in the United States.

While in Cambodia, the Cambodians would wine and dine the Americans, even taking them to brothels.

For Sherry Haley, it's a stunning discovery that what she suspected may be happening next door was far worse than she could have imagined.

“I thought it was drugs or porn,” she says, “but I never dreamed they were doing illegal marriages over here. Never.”

The deal didn't always go as planned, though. In one case, an American women didn't want to go through with the marriage. According to the indictment "T" then threatened to kill her.

According to U.S. Marshalls, the 23 individuals indicted in the marriage fraud plot are still behind bars. They’ll have a detention hearing Thursday at 10 a.m.


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