A Jamaica-born convicted child molester has been found guilty of committing naturalisation fraud in the United States.
Gregory Maxwell Palmer, 48, who is serving a state prison sentence for his previous crime, was convicted by a federal jury in Charlotte, North Carolina after a two-day trial over which US District Judge Frank D. Whitney presided.
A sentencing date has not been set.
The maximum penalty for unlawful procurement of citizenship is 10 years in prison and a US$250,000 fine.
“Palmer used lies and deceit to cheat his way into an American citizenship,” said US Attorney Dena J. King.
“Today’s guilty verdict holds Palmer accountable for his actions and sends a warning message to those who attempt to compromise the integrity of our naturalisation process and violate our country’s immigration laws: You will not go unpunished.”
According to filed documents, evidence presented at trial and witness testimony, while Palmer was residing in Gastonia, North Carolina in 2008, he sexually abused a minor.
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said Palmer later obtained his US citizenship fraudulently by providing materially false information on his citizenship application.
“Trial evidence established that during the naturalisation process, Palmer lied about his criminal history and failed to admit that prior to applying for citizenship, he had knowingly committed sexual acts with a child,” ICE said.
According to evidence, on May 5, 2011, Palmer applied for naturalisation to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
He lied on the application form by responding “no” to the question “Have you ever committed a crime or offence for which you were not arrested?”
Palmer signed the form under penalty of perjury and certified that his answers were true and correct.
On October 5, 2011, ICE Palmer appeared at the USCIS office in Charlotte for a naturalisation interview and swore under oath that his responses on the naturalisation application were true and that he had never committed a crime for which he had not been arrested, ICE said.
Fifteen days later, Palmer participated in a naturalisation ceremony at the USCIS office in Charlotte and was granted US citizenship.
According to court records, on June 6, 2013, in the Gaston County Superior Court, Palmer pleaded guilty to attempted statutory rape and was ordered to serve between 157 and 198 months in prison.
“Palmer admitted to having committed the crime on June 17, 2008, by taking advantage of a position of trust with a minor victim,” ICE said, pointing out that Palmer was not arrested for the crime until after he became a naturalised citizen.
Court documents show that while Palmer was going through the naturalisation process, immigration officials were not aware of his criminal actions.
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