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Final member of alleged fake-marriage ring set free

The final member of a ring accused of marriage fraud was released from jail Friday.

Carmela Valdez, 48, of Fort Worth is one of 16 people, mostly Fort Worth residents, charged with arranging and entering into false marriages so illegal immigrants could get legal permanent residency.

Before releasing her, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Stickney ordered Valdez to stay off drugs and alcohol and get mental health counseling.

Illegal immigrants paid up to $12,000 for the marriages, according to court documents.

The 29-count indictment includes felonies such as conspiracy to commit fraud with immigration documents, identity theft, Social Security number fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents.

The conspiracy, fraud and Social Security number counts each carry a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

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