News release originally published by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern District of Florida
Panama City Marriage Fraud Conspirators Plead Guilty and Sentenced
PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Ravi Babu Kolla, 47, an Indian foreign national residing in Panama City, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. On Tuesday, his co-defendant Krystal Cloud, 40, of Altha, Florida, was sentenced to 24 months in prison for marriage and visa fraud conspiracy after pleading guilty on December 28, 2018. Lawrence Keefe, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the guilty plea and sentence.
Between February 2017 and August 2018, Kolla operated an immigration marriage fraud business in Bay County that recruited U.S. citizens to marry Indian foreign nationals to gain immigration benefits. The majority of the Indian foreign nationals overstayed their Visas or Student Exchange Visitor Program requirements and were unlawfully residing in the United States. The investigation identified over 80 fraudulent marriages that were performed in Alabama as part of Kolla’s scheme.
Cloud is a U.S. citizen who participated with Kolla in the marriage fraud business. After entering a fraudulent marriage in October 2017, she began recruiting U.S. citizens to marry Indian foreign nationals. Cloud directly recruited or participated in the recruitment of 10 or more U.S. citizens from the Panama City area and rural Calhoun and Jackson Counties. She also helped gather personal information so Kolla could create fraudulent immigration forms in order for the Indian foreign nationals to remain in the United States.
Kolla is being detained. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 22, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee.
Kolla faces a maximum of 5 years in prison for conspiracy to commit marriage and visa fraud and a maximum of 20 years in prison for money laundering conspiracy.
The case was investigated by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, the Panama City Police Department, the Blountstown Police Department, and the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office (Alabama). Assistant United States Attorney Corey J. Smith is prosecuting the case.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.