US: Court official faces same-sex marriage fraud charges
An investigation has been launched into the case of a court official from Iowa, who allegedly filed false documents saying she had married a same-sex couple from Florida, despite never having met the men, who had never travelled to Iowa for a ceremony.
Grundy County Deputy Clerk of Court Brigitte Van Nice faces two counts of forgery and one count of perjury. The 42-year old was arrested at work, posted bond, and will appear in court next week.
This is believed to be the first case of its kind in the state of Iowa, said Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Larry Hedlund.
Iowa is one of six US states where equal marriage is currently legal.
The case came to light when one of the men contacted a Florida attorney about getting a divorce, bringing the false document to light.
The couple will not face prosecution, said Prosecutor Jennifer Miller, as they had believed the documents meant they were legally married.
“We determined that they basically were the ones that were duped,” Prosecutor Miller said.
“I don’t think they were trying to fraudulently obtain a marriage license. They were told it was fine for them to not be in the state when they got married. I don’t think they realised it was not going to be a valid marriage.”
The defendant became ordained to perform marriages online in 2011, and started correspondence with the couple, after they had searched for how to obtain a marriage license in Iowa, Ms Miller said.
A criminal report said that, back in February, Ms Van Nice filed a marriage certificate claiming she had officiated the couple’s wedding on Valentines day, and that there were two female witnesses to the ceremony.
The case continues.