VANCOUVER — A woman is facing Canada's first immigration-related bigamy charge in a British Columbia marriage-of-convenience scheme.
Jotika Ashni Reddy, 33, is accused of marrying one man on Sep. 27, 2006 in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey and a second man on Jan. 26, 2008 in nearby Delta, while she was already married to a third man.
Reddy then tried to sponsor the two men — both foreign nationals — for permanent residency in Canada.
“Each of them applied for permanent resident status on the basis of the marriage,” said federal Crown prosecutor Jenna Hyman.
Reddy is charged with two counts of bigamy and two counts of knowingly misrepresenting or withholding material facts under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Because immigration is a federal matter, the four charges are being prosecuted in federal court.
“It is the first time we've laid a charge of bigamy . . . in Canada,” said Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman Faith St. John.
Reddy's first marriage was registered in B.C. on April 26, 1997.
Civil court documents in 2008 listed Reddy, a resident of Edmonton, as a building maintenance worker.
She turned herself in to Canada Border Services Agency investigators in Surrey last week after a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Under Canadian immigration law, a Canadian citizen is entitled to sponsor his or her current legal spouse.
Immigration policy analyst Richard Kurland said it's rare for a marriage of convenience case to slide over into the criminal justice system.
“It turns on the documents themselves,” said Kurland. “If the documents are in order, there is no defence.
“Your intent is trumped by the documents. You'll have a hard time explaining two marriages in 24 months in the same jurisdiction with no divorce proceedings.”
Reddy's next appearance is set for Federal Court in Surrey on Nov. 26.
crime never pays and everybody should learn a lesson from this