Criminal Explains How Cameras Caught Him

Author: Carlton Purvis, Published on Jan 13, 2014

Henry’s story is the second in our series exploring surveillance from the other side of the law -- from the people who got caught. He’s 38 years old and spent three years in federal prison for a marriage fraud scheme based in Chicago. Henry would help European immigrants find American suitors to marry. He set up the transactions from a rolodex of American’s looking to make money and a steady flow up immigrants looking to change their citizenship status. Both city surveillance and covert surveillance was used to build the case. Eighteen people were charged, but as the ringleader he was the only one to face prison time. The rest received probation.

History

For three years law enforcement monitored Henry's movements using both covert and city surveillance. He was arrested for doing 18 marriages, but he admits he’d done around 250 by the time he was caught.

The “business” started out by chance after helping a friend, Lena, find her mother an American man to marry. They realized their was some demand for this kind of thing and turned it into an enterprise. Lena would find Americans looking to make some money and Henry would help get the paperwork done.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says he arraigned marriages “between nine U.S. citizens and nine Eastern European foreign nationals [and] He admitted recruiting U.S. citizens by promising them $5,000 to enter into fraudulent marriages with foreign nationals.” The marriages allowed the immigrants to get permanent U.S. residence.

Henry says the immigrants would pay him to help them arrange the marriages. ICE says he would promise the American citizens $5,000 for their part in the scheme that he would pay in installments until the immigrant finally received a green card. He even participated in a fake marriage himself.

How He Got Caught

After authorities began investigating Lena’s mother’s marriage, she revealed the business she had with Henry and became an informant. While she was still bringing American "suitors," she was wearing a wire and helping the authorities set up surveillance.

“They had me. They had me on wiretap, they had me on camera downstairs in City Hall with people getting married, they have pictures of me and surveillance of me taking my kids to school,” he said. All of the footage was provided to his lawyer on DVD.

Surveillance video from city hall showed he visited at least 70 times one month. He says he had to go by once for the paperwork and again to watch the marriage officiated, so that would be about 35 weddings. During the weddings, Lena was often wearing a hidden camera.

“I was really shocked. When I looked back at the video, she was always asking me questions of things she basically knew already. She was asking questions she knew the answers to. She was trying to get me to reveal certain things like how many weddings I’d done ... You have a friend for five or six years that you think you can trust, but you can’t,” he said.

Failed Defense

Henry says his lawyer tried to raise questions about discrepancies in the footage (the footage was edited together to show each recorded incident), but the prosecutors keyed in on the fact that because he wasn’t a government employee, he had no business to be at city hall so often.

“I was there multiple times a month. The camera showed that. I really couldn’t justify why I was there. And [Lena] telling on everything, that pretty much put the nail in the coffin,” he said.

Perception of Law Enforcement Surveillance

Henry still harbors some anger at the authorities and his accomplices. Citing being watched as he took his kids to school, he says he feels the federal authorities have no morals or respect for people’s families.

“The feds are scumbags. They’re liars. They’re worth just as much as the majority of criminals they put away ... They use their position of authority to get people to do things they wouldn’t normally do and they play off that and it’s not fair. It’s just being a bully. They use their power and surveillance not for good but for leverage."

The main reason Lena flipped on him, he says, is because she was told that she could get 20 years in prison for helping him, but the crime she was charged with only carried a year sentence. In the end she only got probation.

Henry says he was aware of cameras in the city and government buildings, but he never thought they would be used against him. He says he was especially surprised that they used hidden cameras to catch him. Even though he’s served his time, he says he is still careful around cameras and in conversation.

“Cameras are everywhere now. They even have speed cameras now. I’m just paranoid now. I don’t do anything wrong, but I’m leery of people too now. You see all this stuff on TV about people wearing wiretaps and hidden cameras in the buttons of their coats. It makes you think about things,” he said.

He insists that he really just wanted to help people. “All I did was help Europeans help find Americans who would marry them,” he said.

Comments (0)

Login to read this IPVM report.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Most Recent Industry Reports

Access Control Cabling Tutorial on Jan 15, 2019
Access Control is only as reliable as its cables. While this aspect lacks the sexiness of other components, it remains a vital part of every...
Gorilla Technology AI Provider, Raises $15 Million, Profiled on Jan 15, 2019
Gorilla Technology is a Taiwanese video analytics manufacturer that recently announced a $15 million investment from SBI Group, saying this...
2019 IP Networking Book Released on Jan 14, 2019
The new IP Networking Book 2019 is a 285 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security...
Arecont Costar Layoffs on Jan 14, 2019
Arecont Vision, a Costar Company, has laid off more than 10% of their workforce in a move the company described to IPVM as a result of "important...
The False SCMP Story on Hikvision NYC AI on Jan 14, 2019
In the past week, one of Asia's largest publications, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), posted an article about "Chinese [facial recognition]...
WDR Tutorial on Jan 11, 2019
Understanding wide dynamic range (WDR) is critical to capturing high quality images in demanding conditions. However, with no real standards, any...
Pelco Favorability Results 2019 on Jan 11, 2019
Pelco had a significant favorability problem amongst integrators in our previous study (see 2016 Pelco results). Now, in the first edition of our...
Bad: Dahua Villa Video Doorbell Tested on Jan 11, 2019
Doorbells are one of the hottest segments in the residential market but Dahua's Villa Video Doorbell is the worst we have tested.   We bought and...
Last Chance - Winter 2019 IP Networking Course on Jan 10, 2019
Today is the last day to register for the Winter 2019 IP Networking course. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact