LOS ANGELES—A Mexican soap opera star accused of entering a sham marriage to stay in the United States was sentenced Monday to 30 days in jail after admitting she lied during an immigration proceeding. Fernanda Romero and her husband, Kent Ross, were both expected to avoid serving time as a result of plea bargains in the case. However, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real noted the seriousness of the crime — the two pleaded guilty to making false statements — and ordered both to start serving their sentences on weekends beginning in June. Prosecutors recommended Romero pay a $5,000 fine and serve five years’ probation. Real agreed with placing Romero and Ross, both 28, on probation but did not require either of them to pay a fine.
“It’s disappointing,” one of Romero’s attorneys, Vicki Podberesky, said after the hearing. “Ms. Romero is remorseful for what happened. The Mexican-born actress has had bit roles in U.S. films such as the 2009 horror movie “Drag Me To Hell,” but is perhaps best known for appearing in the Mexican soap opera “Eternamente Tuya,” which means “eternally yours.”
Romero and Ross’ lives for the past year have played out like a telenova, with federal agents arresting them last April on suspicion of duping immigration officials about their marital status.
The couple maintain they love each other, but say their marriage fell apart partially because their courtship was so quick. The couple are not divorced. Several former acquaintances testified against the pair at a trial last summer. And federal prosecutors presented evidence that Romero and Ross lived in separate homes, contrary to information the two provided on immigration forms.