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Customs agent convicted of witness tampering in sham marriage case

A customs agent at O’Hare Airport faces up to 50 years in prison after she was convicted of witness tampering during an investigation into a sham marriage she’d arranged to obtain citizenship for a Mongolian relative over 10 years ago.

After a five-day trial in federal court, a jury Monday convicted 36-year-old Enkhchimeg Uliziibayar Edwards, also known as “Eni Edwards,” on two counts of witness tampering and two counts of making false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the Executive branch of the U.S. government, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

In her employment application for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Edwards denied having close or continuing contact with foreign nationals, prosecutors said.

But in 2003, she arranged for a her cousin, a Mongolian citizen, to marry a friend of hers, a U.S. citizen, so the cousin could obtain citizenship, prosecutors said. The two were married in Las Vegas and shortly afterward, the cousin applied to become a citizen.

The American stopped pursuing citizenship for the spouse after the government requested additional information, prosecutors said. A decade later, in January 2013, an investigation was launched into Edwards’ role in the sham marriage.

On Jan. 8, 2013, and again the following day, Edwards tried to persuade the American citizen to lie to law enforcement and not provide information about her involvement, prosecutors said.

Each count of witness tampering is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while each count of making false statements carries a maximum sentence of five years, prosecutors said. Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals scheduled a sentencing hearing for May 26.