Mo. state employee charged with marriage fraud

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri state employee has been taken into federal custody as part of a marriage fraud scheme.

Oleksandr "Alex" Druzenko, a Ukrainian national employed at the state Office of Administration, is among three people indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit marriage fraud in order to evade immigration laws.

U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson announced the charges Friday, although the indictment was handed down in October against 32-year-old Druzenko, who remains in custody pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutors say 60-year-old Patricia Ewalt, of El Paso, Texas, married Druzenko in 2007 to keep him in the country. Darya Chernova, of Chandler, Ariz., is charged with conspiracy for introducing Druzenko and Ewalt.

The auditor's office says Druzenko was out on a travel assignment. Ewalt did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and efforts to reach 38-year-old Chernova were unsuccessful.

Read more about the details of this case in a followup article being prepared for publication on Sunday in the News Tribune and on NewsTribune.com.

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