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

Artificial Intelligence Robot Assistant (ACTi) on Feb 23, 2017
Has artificial intelligence come to the video surveillance industry? ACTi has released 'SARA' which it bills as an 'AI assistant that brings...
Cutting Costs 70% Using Milestone With HD Analog on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog and enterprise VMSes are often thought of as being on opposite sides of the spectrum, with HD analog best for small jobs due to its low...
Dahua 4K HD Analog Cameras Announced on Feb 23, 2017
HD analog has been gaining popularity (even if Axis hopes otherwise). Last year, HD analog's max resolution doubled from 1080p to 4MP (see our 4MP...
Uniview (UNV) IP Cameras Tested on Feb 22, 2017
"We're #3," in China says Uniview (UNV). While the company significantly trails Hikvision and Dahua in total sales, one notable difference is that...
Glass Doors and Access Control Tutorial on Feb 22, 2017
The biggest challenge for many access control systems are glass doors. Here's what happens when a maglock is improperly installed to an existing...
Exacq Favorability Results on Feb 22, 2017
For years, Exacq has been one of the most frequently favored VMSes in IPVM integrator statistics (e.g., see Favorite VMS Manufacturers...
The Hot RMR Company - Electric Guard Dog on Feb 22, 2017
The financiers at the Barnes Buchanan conference praised a company named 'Electric Guard Dog'. While the name sounds fairly low tech, the money and...
Hikvision Leads Multi-Manufacturer Sales Promo on Feb 21, 2017
Earlier this month, Hikvision launched new 'super value' kits, with 40% discounts, and now Hikvision is offering another promo, but this time they...
Washington DC MPD's Surveillance Equipment on Feb 21, 2017
The Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department's surveillance system was hacked in January 2017. Two immediate questions were: Whose...
Hikvision Ezviz Mini 360 Plus - $80 Autotracking Camera Tested on Feb 21, 2017
Autotracking, integrated IR, local storage, full HD, cloud access: $80. That is the claim of Hikvision EZVIZ's new Mini 360 Plus. But for this...

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