Jefferson City attorney indicted by federal jury for marriage fraud

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A Jefferson City attorney was indicted by a federal grand jury for trying to commit marriage fraud in order to evade immigration laws.

The grand jury indicted 60-year-old James Douglas Barding on April 24, but the decision was made public Tuesday during Barding's first court appearance.

According to the indictment, Barding -- a married U.S. citizen -- was having an affair with a Ukrainian national who was a student at Lincoln University and University of Missouri-Columbia.

Officials say Barding wanted Darya Chernova, 38, to find a U.S. citizen to marry her so that she could stay in the country after her student visa expired.

The indictment states that Barding and Chernova helped another Ukainian national, Oleksandr Nikolayevich Druzenko, 32, of Jefferson City to marry an American citizen, Patricia Anne Ewalt, 60, of El Paso, Texas.

Officials believe that marriage was for the sole purpose of allowing Druzenko to stay in the United States after his student visa expired.

Druzenko is currently employed at the Missouri Office of Administration in Jefferson City.

Barding, Druzenko, Ewalt and Chernova are all charged with participating in a conspiracy to defraud the United States, to commit marriage fraud, and to gain resident status and citizenship through false statements.

They are also all charged with one count of marriage fraud. Druzenko and Ewalt are also charged with three counts of making false statements on immigration forms.

Barding, Druzenko and Chernova are also facing a charge of attempting to unlawfully gain citizenship or naturalization after a failed 2007 marriage attempt.

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