BANGOR, Maine — The Sabattus woman who enlisted more than a dozen other Mainers, including family and friends, to enter into sham marriages with immigrants was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court to 10 months in prison.

Angela Roy, 37, sobbed as a federal judge described her role as a recruiter and wedding planner in the state’s first spouses-for-hire conspiracy as “extremely significant.” Roy was recruited more than seven years ago by two Massachusetts men, who are natives of Africa, to find men and women willing to marry foreign nationals for a fee so the immigrants could more easily achieve citizenship.

“It would have been difficult for [them] to approach Maine citizens on their own,” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock told Roy during her 90-minute sentencing hearing. “So the defendant went out and recruited friends and members of her own family in an ever widening circle.

“She approached these individuals, she negotiated payments for their participation and clinched the deal,” the judge continued. “Then she became a wedding planner and arranged when and where the ceremonies would take place.”

Roy attended 16 sham wedding ceremonies, including her sister’s, after she became involved in the conspiracy,  according to court documents. She signed the marriage certificates as a witness for seven of them and on April 5, 2004, entered into a sham marriage herself.

“I’m sorry to have put my family through what I have,” Roy told Woodcock on Wednesday. “I know that I have to do jail time. I have to show other women that there are other options out there and they can get help.”

In imposing the sentence, Woodcock said that he had reduced Roy’s sentence on the recommendation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office because she cooperated with federal prosecutors and testified last month at a trial in federal court in Portland against ringleader Rashid Kakande, 37, of Woburn, Mass., who was convicted by a jury. Kakande, originally from Uganda, is being held without bail while awaiting sentencing.

A second man, James Mbugua (pronounced umm-BOOG-wa), was indicted in July 2010 by a federal grand jury with Kakande. Mbugua, 50, of Springfield, Mass., disappeared last year and is considered a fugitive by the court. He is a native of Kenya.

“You were so successful [as a recruiter] because you knew who was vulnerable and sought out others who were financially strapped,” Woodcock told Roy just before imposing the sentence. “It was because of your special knowledge about their lives that you targeted them.”

The judge also told the defendant that nearly all of the dozen defendants connected with the case would not be federal felons if they had not met Roy.

Roy’s sister, Torri Roy Patterson, 32, of Lewiston was sentenced April 4 to six months in federal prison. Patterson met and was paid by Kakande (pronounced ka-KAHN-day) to marry a Kenyan man, who was living in Massachusetts, on Dec. 5, 2003, in Lewiston, according to court documents. She also recruited people and attended seven sham weddings, signing the marriage certificate after three of them.

Roy’s mother, June Roy White, 56, and her husband, Albert White, 48, both of Newport, pleaded guilty in the scheme. He was sentenced Monday in federal court in Bangor to three months in prison. His wife is scheduled to be sentenced May 2.

In addition to prison time, Woodcock sentenced Roy to three years of supervised release after she completes her term of incarceration. The judge also ordered her to pay a $5,000 fine, which is equal to the amount she earned from the scheme.

Woodcock deferred the imposition of Roy’s sentence until June 17.

Roy faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Under the prevailing federal sentencing guidelines, she faced between 10 and 16 months in prison and a fine of between $3,000 and $30,000.

Reprinted with permission from the Bangor Daily News.

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