Woman gets 1-year probation for visa fraud

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The U.S District Court for the NMI has sentenced a woman to a one-year probation after she pleaded guilty to forging a visa application.

During her hearing last week, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona sentenced Svetlana M. Maala to one-year probation after she pleaded guilty to forging a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services notice form.

The court also imposed a $100 special assessment fee on Maala.

Pursuant to her sentence, Maala will remain released, but her passport will be forwarded to immigration authorities.

According to court documents, Maala voluntarily signed a plea agreement back in April and in doing so, Maala pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and misuse of visa.

As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. government agreed not to file additional charges against her.

The U.S. government, through assistant U.S. Attorney Garth Backe, said with the charges filed against her, Maala faced a possible maximum penalty of not more than 10 years imprisonment; a fine not to exceed $250,000; not more than a three-year term of supervised release; and a $100 special penal assessment.

The plea agreement stated that back in June 7, 2018, Maala, a Philippine national, knowingly counterfeited and altered a form 1-797 by sending another individual’s form 1-797 to a second individual in the Philippines, and requested that it be photoshopped to show that it belonged to her.

In her plea agreement, Maala admitted to knowing that the form 1-797 was not hers and was intending to use it as proof of her eligibility to stay and work in the U.S.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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