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Jefferson City attorney pleads guilty to marriage fraud

A Jefferson City attorney on Tuesday pleaded guilty in federal court to marriage fraud.

62-year-old James Barding is a married man but had a long term affair with a Ukrainian national who came to the U.S. on a student visa.

The woman formerly lived a few blocks away from where Barding and his wife lived, but has since moved out of state.

Barding admitted to meeting with the woman and another man who agreed to marry her before her visa expired in April 2010, the day before they were scheduled to be questioned by U.S. immigration officials.

The meeting was scheduled for the two to go over their testimony, and Barding told them to stick to their false stories about their fake marriage.

Barding told the man if they stayed together and stuck to their stories, they wouldn’t get caught and she could stay in the U.S.

Barding also admitted to telling the man if he agreed to marry her, he would not have to live with her and could get divorced after she gained status to stay in the U.S.

The two were married in March 2005 in Cape Girardeau so people they knew in Cole Co. wouldn’t find out about it.

The woman and the man filed false forms claiming they shared an apartment in Jefferson City, and provided documents to show they shared accounts, but no accounts or bills were actually shared.

The woman was granted conditional permanent resident status in November 2008.

Barding and the woman had two children together, but the woman falsely claimed on birth and immigration records that the children belonged to her husband.

Barding could face a 5 year prison sentence without parole, and a fine of up to $250,000.

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