Grooms: Brides Manipulated System

Valley Men Say Foreign Brides Tried To Exploit Domestic Violence Loophole In Immigration Law


POSTED: 9:37 pm MST April 29, 2009
UPDATED: 12:39 pm MST April 30, 2009
PHOENIX -- Some foreign brides tried to exploit a loophole in immigration law by accusing their husbands of domestic violence, several Valley men say.


These Russian and Ukrainian brides tend to be young -- sometimes 20 years their husband's junior -- and they were very eager to marry, the men said.


Reed Simon met his ex-wife Anna while vacationing in Russia in 2001; after a short courtship, he brought her to Scottsdale and they married. Soon afterward, they had a son.


The wedded bliss ended, however, when police showed up at the Simon house, saying Anna accused Simon of locking her in their home, sexually abusing her and threatening to kill her, Simon said.

It took

Simon 18 months and thousands of dollars in legal fees before the charges were dismissed.


"I have since met at least a half-dozen other men who had the same thing that happened to me happen to them," he said.


A man who requested anonymity said a similar incident happened to him.


He met his Ukrainian wife, Valentina, on an Internet dating site, brought her to Arizona and married her within three months.


Less than a year later, the police showed up at his door.


"I woke up one morning to a phone call from a police officer," he said. "(I) went outside and there were five or six guns drawn on me ... They had me get down on my knees, put my hands behind my back, and they put me in a police car."


Valentina apparently told police he tried to kill her with a metal pipe.


In events similar to Simon's case, the charges were dismissed after an 18-month court battle.


5 Investigates talked to one other Scottsdale man who refused to appear on camera.


According to court documents, two days after his Russian bride received her green card she accused him of abuse; a judge later ruled she committed marriage fraud and ordered her to return thousands of dollars worth of possessions.


"It is clear to me that the immigration law is being manipulated," immigration attorney Nicomedes Suriel said after hearing the stories.


An expert in immigration cases, he said some women have found a loophole of sorts in the immigration law. The Violence Against Women Act was established to help foreign women who are victims of domestic violence gain U.S. citizenship. Nevertheless, some foreigners use this to their advantage by falsely claiming abuse.


"In my experience, there is usually someone ... that sort of says, 'Here's what you have to do, here's what you have to say, here's what you do when you call the police," Suriel said. "Unfortunately, that's why I call it gaming the system."


Olga Chaikheeva, who runs the Shield Foundation, is a prominent member of the Russian-American community, according to her Web site, but Simon and the other man said she told their brides to accuse them of abuse.


According to Simon, Chaikheeva told his wife that if she wanted to see her baby again, Anna would have to accuse Simon of domestic abuse.


5 Investigates spoke to Anna -- who is now in Russia -- and she backs up her husbandís claim that Chaikheeva tried to control her. She also confirmed to us what she had written about Chaikheeva in a letter to the prosecutor in her husbandís case:
"(Chaikheeva) went to great lengths to rehearse me on what to say and how to pretend tears in front of the judge and to convince me that I could benefit greatly by doing this ... As I have found out since, she follows the same procedure with all of her 'clients.' Almost all are too afraid to testify against her."
The man who requested anonymity believes Chaikheeva told his wife to call police.


"The same day I was arrested, Valentina and Olga, they took my passport, my jewelry, the computer," he said. "They drained my accounts."


"I don't think much of her," he added. "I think she's a liar. I know she's a liar."


Chaikheeva declined to comment on the story over the phone; however, she sent an e-mail saying, "SHIELD Foundation staff and volunteers are always mindful in regards to their personal safety, which may be jeopardized by a breech of confidentiality of information."


Further attempts to talk to her at the Shield office, her home and her business partner's home were met with silence.