by Regina Cantu @ Matt.org
Fernanda Romero, the Mexican-born actress who admitted lying to immigration officials about her bogus marriage, has been sentenced to 30 days in jail.
The surprising sentence was handed down despite efforts to avoid serving time as a result of plea bargains in the case. U.S. District Judge Manuel Real commented on the seriousness of the crime — the two pleaded guilty to making false statements — and ordered both to start serving their sentences on weekends beginning in June.
Prosecutors recommended Romero pay a $5,000 fine and serve five years’ probation. Real agreed with placing Romero and Ross, both 28, on probation but did not require either of them to pay a fine. “It’s disappointing,” one of Romero’s attorneys, Vicki Podberesky, said after the hearing. “Ms. Romero is remorseful for what happened.”
The Mexican-born actress has had bit roles in U.S. films such as the 2009 horror movie “Drag Me To Hell,” but is perhaps best known for appearing in the Mexican soap opera “Eternamente Tuya.”Romero and Ross’ lives for the past year have played out like a telenova, with federal agents arresting them last April on suspicion of duping immigration officials about their marital status. The couple maintain they love each other and have not yet divorced, saying their marriage fell apart partially because their courtship was so brief. Contrary to information the two provided on immigration forms, federal prosecutors presented evidence that Romero and Ross lived in separate homes, dated other people and essentially lived separate lives. Romero admitted lying when she claimed Ross and her mother “hung out all the time.” Ross, a musician and restaurant worker, admitted he lied when he said he and Romero lived together. Prosecutors contended Ross was paid $5,000 to marry Romero so she could obtain permanent residency.
“This has made me grow and made me a better person,” she told the judge, who could have used his discretion to give her up to six months in prison. Her attorneys asked for home detention and noted she has some acting commitments. Still, Romero could be deported depending on the evidence presented by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in the immigration hearing.