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Court Hears Testimony In “Sham Marriage” Trial
By William H. Braun, Free Press Staff Writer
Burlington Free Press, March 24, 1982
The government contends Mary Simon married Sok Bong Chung for money alone. So does Miss Simon.
Defense lawyers for Chung and Kyong-Ae Fontaine say the marriage may have been for money, but it was also for something akin to love – or at least an attempt by two people to combat loneliness.
A federal court jury will have to decide whether the Feb. 23, 1979 marriage was real or simply a sham to make Chung, a Korean, eligible for resident alien status in the United States.Chung, 44, and Mrs. Fontaine, 36 and the alleged matchmaker, face three charges each. Chung is accused of making false statements to immigration inspectors March 29 and May 23, 1979. Mrs. Fontaine is charged with aiding and abetting Chung in making those statements, and both are charged with conspiracy.
Miss Simon, now 22 and a Colchester resident, was the government’s leadoff witness as the trial began Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Burlington.
She said when Mrs. Fontaine’s brother picked her up in January 1979 to take her and Chung to a doctors office for premarital blood tests, “It was the first time in my life I ever laid eyes on the man”.
William Sessions, Chung’s attorney, said the defense intends to present witnesses who will testify that the marriage apparently was consummated, that Miss Simon did live with Chung for about a week before leaving “for whatever reasons”, and that she made repeated visits to Chung in the months following the marriage.
Peter Cleveland, Mrs. Fontaine’s attorney, said he will present witnesses who will testify to the character and truthfulness of Mrs. Fontaine, the operator of the Kyong-Ae Academy of Tae Kwon Do karate school and the former Fred Astaire dance school on College Street in Burlington.
Miss Simon was 19, unemployed and broke in the late fall of 1978. “To combat boredom”, she said, she went to the Fred Astaire dance studio a number of times because the couple with whom she and her boyfriend were living were working there as instructors.
During one visit “Miss Kim”, as Mrs. Fontaine was known, called Miss Simon into the office and asked if Miss Simon knew anyone who wanted to make a quick $1,000, according to Miss Simon.
The young woman said Mrs. Fontaine explained that she had a friend who needed to marry an American girl so he could stay in this country. All that would be required would be to go through the ceremony, she testified. A divorce would be obtained and paid for by the man in six months to a year, Miss Simon said.