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Reis v. McCleary

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

August 11, 2016

MICHAEL J. MCCLEARY, Acting Director, Boston Field Office, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, et al., Defendants.


          Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge


         The plaintiff, Carlos Dos Reis, seeks de novo review of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) denial of his petition for naturalization. The government argues that this Court should deny the plaintiff’s petition because (1) his marriage to a United States citizen was a sham, and (2) he has not shown good moral character during the five-year statutory period because he made false statements under oath to USCIS, underreported his taxable income, and failed to support his children. After a one-day bench trial, this Court finds that the plaintiff (1) had the requisite intent to start a married life with his wife at the time of their marriage, (2) made false statements under oath to USCIS to obtain an immigration benefit, and (3) willfully failed to make child support payments to his dependents. The Court declines to find that he underreported his taxable income. Therefore, the plaintiff has not proven by a preponderance of evidence that he meets the statutory requirement of good moral character and his petition for naturalization (Docket No. 1) is DENIED.


         I. Background

         The plaintiff arrived in the United States from Brazil on March 10, 2002 on a tourist visa. To obtain the visa, he was required to affirm that he did not intend to permanently remain in the United States. The visa did not permit him to work, expired after six months, and allowed him to leave and return to the United States. Within one month of arriving, Dos Reis purchased a vehicle and began to work at McDonald’s. After working at McDonald’s for a short time, he got a job as a painter, and, in 2003, started his own painting business where he currently employs seven other painters. A hard worker, Dos Reis regularly works eleven hour days, six days per week. Shortly after arriving in the country, he decided to remain here because of the increased economic opportunities in this country. He was eager to become an economic success.

         II. Marriage

         Shortly after arriving, Dos Reis’s former girlfriend in Brazil notified him that she was pregnant with his child. Despite this pregnancy, he decided to stay in the United States. The child was born on May 10, 2002. He visited the child five times during return trips to Brazil.

         In 2004, Dos Reis entered into a relationship with another woman, a Brazilian citizen, in Braintree, Massachusetts. The couple moved in together and the relationship was heading towards marriage. However, the relationship was rocky and the couple fought regularly. In January 2005, Dos Reis was arrested for the assault and battery of his girlfriend, but she later bailed him out of jail and dropped the charges. Ex. 28. His girlfriend became pregnant with Dos Reis’s second child. He never married her.

         At around this time, the plaintiff met Sherry Mouzer at a party in Weymouth Commons, an apartment complex in Weymouth, Massachusetts, where they both lived. The two had separate apartments, each with multiple roommates. Dos Reis was attracted to Mouzer, her blond hair and green eyes, and wanted to pursue a relationship with her. The two began dating. Mouzer and Dos Reis saw a movie on their first date. Mouzer, age twenty at the time, had just broken up with her drug trafficking boyfriend, had an arrest record, and abused drugs. She did not disclose her drug issues to Dos Reis. She found Dos Reis to be handsome and viewed him as her savior from her bad situation.

         About three to six months after the couple met, Dos Reis proposed marriage and Mouzer accepted. He gave her a gold ring and a flower. The couple was married by a justice of the peace on July 8, 2005. No one from Mouzer’s family attended the wedding and she did not tell her mother about the marriage until several months afterwards. Dos Reis had two guests present, his sister and a friend. After the wedding, he and Mouzer saw each other almost every day, but they continued to live in their separate apartments, because of their multiple roommates. On October 21, 2005, Dos Reis’s second child was born.

         In December 2005, Dos Reis purchased his house at 59 Michele Drive in Weymouth. Mouzer’s name is not on the deed or the mortgage to the house. Dos Reis put down $28, 000 on the $450, 000 house. Mouzer moved into the house with Dos Reis. Though not working regularly, she participated in household chores and helped Dos Reis in his painting business by occasionally painting and translating for him when he interacted with his clients. The plaintiff provided a DISH bill from December 2005, a Comcast cable bill from January 2006, and a water consumption report from December 2005 all addressed to both Dos Reis and Mouzer at 59 Michele Drive. Exs. 13, 17-18.

         III. Marriage Deterioration

         Beginning in mid-2006, the marriage began to deteriorate. Mouzer, who still struggled with drug addiction, spent more time away from the couple’s home with her old friends from her hometown of Marshfield, Massachusetts. She would stay with her mother in Marshfield, at various hotels and friends’ apartments, and at institutional rehabilitation centers. She did not tell Dos Reis where she was staying. Although it is unclear whether he knew before their marriage about her continuing drug addiction, he became aware of Mouzer’s issues when she was taken to the hospital after overdosing in 2007. He also learned that she had turned to prostitution to finance her drug habit when he read an article about her arrest in a prostitution sting in 2008. Ex. 51. She was arrested fourteen times after the couple married.

         The couple separated in November 2006. From mid-2006 through 2011, in Mouzer’s Registry of Motor Vehicle records, police and court records, and Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) records, she only listed 59 Michele Drive as her address twice. Exs. 35, 36, 38, 48, 51, 52, 58, 62, 63, 67. In early 2006, Mouzer applied to change her vehicle registration address to the marital home. Ex. 36. Mouzer received food stamps and health insurance separate from Dos Reis during the couple’s marriage. Ex. 38. When Mouzer stayed in the hospital in 2007 after her drug overdose, Dos Reis did not pay any of the medical bills. In the couple’s 2011 divorce petition, they averred that they “last lived together at 59 Michele Dr. Weymouth, MA 02190 on November 2006.” Ex. 72. Both Mouzer and Dos Reis signed the petition.

         IV. The One-Night Stand

         In late 2006 or early 2007, Keidia Lima and her husband Brad Gibbs moved into the basement apartment of Dos Reis’s house. Dos Reis charged the couple $1, 100 per month in rent, which they paid largely in cash. Lima and Dos Reis had a “one-night stand” in October 2007 that resulted in Lima’s pregnancy with Dos Reis’s third child. Mouzer was off with her drug associates when Lima became pregnant and was upset when she learned of the pregnancy. Lima’s husband moved out. Mouzer’s life was spiraling out of control with drugs and prostitution. The plaintiff’s third child was born on August 20, 2008.

         While Lima and Dos Reis insist that they did not have a long-term relationship, shortly after the baby was born, Lima, Dos Reis, and the baby traveled to Brazil so Lima’s family could meet the baby. Dos Reis paid for their plane tickets, and during the trip, he spent several days meeting Lima’s family. They all traveled back to the United States together. Neither Lima’s husband nor Mouzer accompanied them on this trip. Indeed, Mouzer never met the plaintiff’s family. Lima and the baby continued to live in Dos Reis’s basement apartment for seven months after the child’s birth and eventually moved out in March 2009.

         V. False Testimony

         On September 7, 2005, the plaintiff filed his application for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Mouzer’s support petition affirming that the couple was married accompanied this application. After an LPR interview on January 26, 2006, USCIS approved Dos Reis’s application on February 25, 2008.

         On December 20, 2010, the plaintiff filed his first naturalization petition, and USCIS interviewed him on April 5, 2011. In his April 2011 interview, the USCIS officer placed Dos Reis under oath and asked him questions based on his naturalization petition. Ex. 65. During the interview, the plaintiff affirmed that he had been “married to and living with the same United States citizen for the last three years . . . .” Ex. 65. He answered no to the question: “Have you ever: Failed to support your dependents or to pay alimony?” Ex. 65 (emphasis in ...

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