Latino media grapples with how to cover the Nury Martinez scandal
In 2015, the Associated Press published an investigative report that detailed allegations that Nury Martinez, a U.S. immigration and naturalization service employee in New York, had been providing employment and marriage advice in exchange for money from criminal clients. The AP later published another story that accused Martinez of “illegally giving advice about the marriage-fraud process.” Martinez denied the allegations and the AP removed all posts it had published on Martinez and the case.
In December, the AP reported that Martinez had pled guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion for giving false testimony about his immigration and naturalization practices. According to a press release sent by the AP, Martinez admitted to paying the $4,500 fee for marriage counseling in exchange for a marriage and a visa for a former client, who he then represented in Canada.
In his plea bargain, Martinez had agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, a $1,000 victim-restitution payment, and 300 hours of community service.
In addition to pleading guilty, Martinez was sentenced to one year of probation for the charges, a $1,000 fine, and 300 hours of community service. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys are recommending probation for Martinez, while noting that the government’s request for more jail time than requested by the judge was inappropriate.
In its 2017 story about the Martinez sentencing, the Associated Press reported that the conviction has brought a new controversy to light. The AP identified and quoted two former clients of Martinez who said they had been charged in the same case. One said that he had paid an additional $4,000 fee to get a “special immigration visa” for a Canadian business partner. The second client said he had paid $4,500 for counseling and a marriage ceremony for his niece.
Martinez denied the allegations in the AP stories. The two attorneys who represent Martinez told the New York Times that there was a risk of the misconduct impacting thousands of other clients, including immigration, naturalization, and law enforcement officials.
“People will now be afraid to come forward and say that they got ripped off because there’s this stigma attached to immigration fraud,” attorney David Rode told the Times. “When you have hundreds of thousands