This story was first published in the Fayetteville Observer.

RALEIGH — A former Army sergeant at Fort Bragg was convicted last week in a marriage fraud ring, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina said Tuesday.

Samuel Manu Agyapong, 34, was found guilty Friday on charges of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, aid and abet naturalization fraud, harboring an alien, visa fraud, theft of government property and trying to obstruct the testimony of a witness in an official proceeding, the release said.

Agyapong faces up to 25 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and supervised release following imprisonment when sentenced in October, the release said.

In February 2019 the Fort Bragg Criminal Investigation Division was alerted that Agyapong was engaged in a sham marriage with Barbara Oppong, a citizen of Ghana who was illegally living in the United States, the release said.

According to the release, Agyapong agreed to the sham marriage in exchange payments from the military for food and housing and permanent residence status for Oppong.

According to the release, Agyapong purchased a home in Fayetteville while Oppong lived in New York and they rarely, if ever, travelled to see one another and never engaged in a legitimate marriage.

“U.S. Soldiers who continue to engage in marriages to foreign nationals in order to reside off base, obtain (housing payments), and allow the alien access to military bases and military and immigration benefits jeopardize and erode the critical infrastructure of Government installations, and our national security,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, G. Norman Acker, III, said in the release.

Agyapong’s conviction comes about a month after another Fort Bragg soldier, Ebenezer “Ben” Yeboah Asane, 37, pleaded guilty in federal court to marriage fraud and conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.

Asane planned and organized sham marriages of several foreign nationals from Ghana to U.S. Army soldiers based at Fort Bragg, a previous release said. Asane was sentenced to three years, eight months in prison followed by three years probation.

At least nine others have been charged in the scheme.

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