CALIFORNIA: Three Marines Face Charges In Alleged Marriage Scam

Three Marine corporals stationed at Camp Pendleton are facing charges over allegedly sham marriages created in part, those charged say, to evade the restrictions of DOMA.

The scam was hatched when a lesbian couple, one a Marine and the other a civilian, decided to live together off base, according to 1st Lt. Maureen Dooley, a Marine spokeswoman at Camp Pendleton. The female Marine found a male Marine willing to get married, allowing them to collect a $1,200 housing benefit, Dooley said. The civilian woman also eventually married a male Marine and collected government funds, according to officials.

The corporals, assigned to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Camp Pendleton, will face fraud and larceny charges, Dooley said, adding that other charges could come later. It was not clear whether the civilian woman would face charges, but the military would not have jurisdiction in such a case, Dooley said. “It doesn’t matter what their sexual preferences are, if they’re violating the law and making fraudulent use of government money, they will be held accountable,” Dooley said. In addition to the charges, the three Marines could have to pay back $75,000 to the military.

The female Marine, Cpl. Ashley Vice, told San Diego’s KGTV-TV Friday that she and her partner, Jaime Murphy, were forced to enter sham marriages because the military does not provide allowances for unmarried couples and they couldn’t afford to live off base without the extra money. She and her partner only wanted to “be a family,” Vice said.

Only legally married military couples are eligible for the housing allowance. Thanks to DOMA, that will not change even with the repeal of DADT. The three Marines face a year in jail.

(Tipped by JMG reader Bill)