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3 Marines accused of arranging sham marriages for financial gain

July 1, 2011 |  2:50 pm

Three Marine corporals have been charged with being part of sham marriages to get additional housing allowances available only to married couples, Marine Corps officials said Friday.

The three, assigned to the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, will face an Article 32, akin to a civilian preliminary hearing, on fraud charges. Their names were not released.

According to KGTV-TV Channel 10, a lesbian couple -- one Marine and one civilian -- wanted to live off base together but could not afford to do so.

The female Marine then found a male Marine willing to get married so she could get a housing allowance and she and her female partner could afford to live off base.

Later, the civilian female also found a male Marine willing to get married so she, too, could get a housing allowance.

The female Marine and the two male Marines now face charges and may have to pay back $75,000 to the Marine Corps, according to the TV station.

"The bottom line is that every Marine knows if they violate the law, they will be held accountable for their actions," said a spokeswoman for the 3rd Marine Air Wing. "Regardless of sexual preference, we will hold all Marines accountable and to the same standards."

The female Marine told the TV station that the couple was forced into the ruse because the military does not provide allowances for unmarried couples. She and her partner only wanted to live "somewhat like a normal couple," she said.

Only married couples are eligible for the housing allowance boost.

Even after the military officially drops its ban against openly gay or lesbian members, same-sex couples, even if married, will still not be eligible because of a federal law defining marriage only as between a man and a woman, officials have said.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego 

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