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Former immigration officer pleads guilty to concealing relationship

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former immigration officer pleaded guilty Friday to concealing a relationship with a foreign national during a security clearance investigation.

Paul Reynolds Friel, Jr., 47, of Orange Park, faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

His co-defendant, Marisol Del Carmen Rodriguez Chavarria, 40, of Orange Park, also pleaded guilty Friday to possessing a visa that had been obtained by means of a false statement.

She faces a maximum penalty of ten years in federal prison. 

Sentencing dates have not been set.

According to court documents, Rodriguez entered the United States from Nicaragua on December 10, 2010, on an immigrant visa issued by the State Department.

Her visa was granted based on the false representation that she intended to permanently reside with her American spouse, Luis Aguilar, at his residence, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Court records indicate that Friel knew Rodriguez from previous trips to Nicaragua and that he had made the reservations and paid for her airfare to the United States.

In March 2011, Rodriguez divorced her spouse and moved into an apartment with Friel. In March 2012, they were married and later had a child together.

Friel was an immigration officer with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In December 2011, during a background investigation for a national security clearance, Friel failed to disclose his relationship with Rodriguez, a foreign national, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Rodriguez's former spouse, Luis Aguilar, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud, and is awaiting sentencing.