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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 7310
Experience:  Lawyer & Real Estate Broker, 30+ years, foreclosure, land contracts, inheritance, probate.
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Last August I placed an ad on craigslist looking for a

Customer Question

Greetings, Last August I placed an ad on craigslist looking for a person who could rent my newly finished basement. After getting offers from a few individuals, I settled for a single girl who seemed to have her affairs in order and had a good job. I wanted to go by the book. Therefore, I performed a background check and a credit report on her with her consent. When she moved in, we signed a lease agreement. She paid her rent on time every month. She was clean, hard-working and virtually invisible. In fact, we were very happy with her and everything worked just fine for a whole year! That is until last Saturday when I had a visit from a lady who claimed to "work for the US marshal's office". As it turns out, they were here to serve papers to my tenant.
I wasn't home but since I own a video/audio device that allows me to answer my door remotely, I was able to talk to them and see them. Unfortunately, I was driving and wasn't hearing too well what she was trying to say. I only realized that she had indeed identified herself as belonging to a law-enforcement agency afterward once I had the chance to review the video of the conversation (which I've enclosed here.)
After calmly confronting my tenant asking her to explain the situation, she gave me what appeared to be a fantastic but hastily put-together story. She claims that she got married to a Hispanic gentleman so that he could gain status as a US resident. She assured me that she did not get paid and that she got married to said Hispanic gentleman only as a favor and out of the goodness of her heart. She also assured me that what had started as a good gesture evolved into a real relationship with time. (Of course, I don't believe either claim.)
As it usually happens with this type of convoluted arrangements, the marriage was exposed as a sham once the authorities evaluating the status-adjustment request for him realized that he didn't speak English at all and that their stories were different! Furthermore, I believe that he may be in trouble as well because the woman who came to my door asked me if I was "Juan" or if I was my tenant's "husband". Of course, I denied it because I am not Juan, nor her husband or in a relationship with her. But I also refused to identify myself by name or as the owner of the home. I also withheld that the person they were looking for was my tenant. Notwithstanding, I did not do this maliciously, I simply failed to grasp the importance of the event that they were from the Marshal's office and instead focused on safeguarding my privacy.
As my tenant's story unraveled, she told me that she had originally traveled to NJ from Florida to marry someone else. This time for "real money", but that didn't happen. Instead, she ended up staying because she likes her job and the quality of life she enjoys here. She also alluded (however vaguely and hypothetically) to a criminal organization who sends females over state lines to marry for money and claimed not to be part of one of these.
My wife and I discussed this at length last night before suddenly realizing that my tenant's current friend is Hispanic and their regular meetings sound similar to what she mentioned she would do with her "ex-husband". His command of the English language though acceptable is not exactly perfect. This is relevant as we now believe that despite her claims, she did get married for "real money". I can't prove it though; it is only an educated guess.
I wish that was the end of it but it isn't. As fate would have it, I am also in the throes of a legal case to obtain US status. I am Mexican and happen to be married to a white American citizen. The one great difference is that we are in a loving marriage and have been married for 8 years now. We have paid taxes and lived together all this time. Moreover, we own a house and have our first baby on the way. My wife and I work and make 6 figures further obviating the need to do something so despicable and illegal as it is marrying for documents.
I'm inclined to call the US marshal's office that has jurisdiction over my city and voluntarily make my findings known to them. In other words, by exposing my wife and I to her illegal activities, I consider my tenant's actions a fatal breach of trust.
My only concern is what to do or how to proceed. Should I retain legal help first? Should I call the US Marshal's office and make statements as to my findings or do I wait for them to return? And if I do, should I also mention that I suspect she may be pursuing another sham marriage with this male friend that only visits once/week?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 11 months ago.

Would you please submit a condensed version of the facts and some specific legal question.
Thank you for using JUST ANSWER.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
A lady claiming to be from the U.S. Marshal's office came to my house to served my tenant papers. I didn't know if my female tenant was home or not because I was not at the house and was communicating with the visitor through my virtual doorbell service which allows me to talk to people who come to my house. I did not disclose my identity because I was driving and did not hear the lady visitor identify herself and where she was from, but knew she had wanted to serve my tenant papers so I told them they could come back. When I told my tenant about this visitor, my tenant has claimed to have married an illegal immigrant as a favor while she lived in Florida over a year ago, but claims she received no money to do so. She abandoned him and moved to NJ claiming it didn't work out but has not yet signed divorce papers. The immigration office thought their marriage was a sham and did not grant him legal status. My concern is that I am also an illegal immigrant who has been going through a very long status adjustment process with my American wife for the past 8 years. I don't want to be involved in my tenant's legal situation or have it affect my immigration process. Should I proactively call the U.S. Marshal's office and give them the information I know about my tenant or should I wait for them to return with papers again? I am already legally involved in her situation because she is my tenant?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I am also concerned that she is getting ready to marry another legal immigrant (this time for money) in NJ because of some information she disclosed and given that there is a Hispanic male "friend" that visits once every week.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hello, are you answering my question?
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 11 months ago.

Yes, please stand by.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Very well, thank you.
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 11 months ago.

You have requested a personal phone conference, which I will be happy to provide; however, there is a problem with your payment going through. Please contact just answer to clear that matter up. Customer service is (###) ###-####

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'm not sure if you sent the request for a phone call but I accepted it anyway when I popped up on my screen. If it wasn't you who sent it I'll be fine with a written answer. If you think we should talk on the phone I'll be happy to try again.
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 11 months ago.

What I would tell you in a phone call is essentially that you should not get involved with the tenant and the US Marshall in any way. Be sure that you have a lease with her so that you can prove you are a landlord and she is a tenant, and that you are not simply trying to harbor an illegal alien. Renting to an illegal alien is not a crime that I am aware of. If you tell the tenant that you got a visit from the Marshall, and she leaves, don't deny that if the Marshall comes back a second time. If you want to talk about this on the phone, please let me know. Otherwise, giving me a positive rating for my assistance will be much appreciated.

Expert:  Irwin Law replied 10 months ago.

Hello again. Do you have a follow-up question? I hope that this answers your question. If not, please feel free to send me a reply for further information. Experts on this site (myself) are compensated ONLY if the customer (yourself) "rate" or "accept" the answer.

Please rate the answer so I may receive credit. There is no additional cost to you. Thanks for your understanding and for using JUST ANSWER.