Australian ‘Casanova Conman’ sentenced in visa fraud case

ALBANY – An Australian national who has been repeatedly accused of defrauding women in his home country, including allegedly defrauding his mother, was sentenced to time served on Wednesday, eight months after pleading guilty visa fraud.

Paul Carter, who lived in Watervliet as Paul Hamilton, was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine after a short US District Court proceeding.

Carter, who was born Paul Cristallo, earned the nickname “Casanova Conman” in the Australian press after a September 2019 expose detailing past accusations of fraud, forgery and failed marriages. When federal agents searched the townhouse he shared with his now wife last year, they found the Australian diplomas under the name Paul Hamilton, a forged letter claiming to confirm his US citizenship and a New York driver’s license, among other documents, according to court records.

Carter lied when he tried to renew an E-2 visa in 2018. This type of visa is granted to immigrants who invest large sums in an American company. Carter first got the visa in 2014 when he immigrated to Boston. In his renewal, Carter failed to mention that he was arrested in 2000 on a marijuana charge in Australia. This charge was dismissed through a diversion program.

Although federal prosecutors did not charge Carter with any crimes of fraud or forgery, during his sentencing they expressed concern about the documents discovered at his home and asked U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy to take them. into account when sentencing Carter.

In addition to a fake immigration letter endorsing his US citizenship, they noted that although he arrived on a visa designed for wealthy people and had a letter from BNY Mellon bank claiming to give him access to a multi-million dollar trust, he qualified for a federal public defender.

“There’s something a little disturbing about this defendant,” Assistant US Attorney Michael Barnett said.

Additionally, a sentencing note prepared by Carter’s lawyers said he had a high school education, but federal agents found two diplomas in his apartment claiming he had business and law degrees from Australian universities. . Both degrees used the name Paul Hamilton, a name prosecutors said Carter did not use before arriving in the United States.

Carter’s attorney, Deputy Federal Public Defender Paul Evangelista, pushed back against the documents presented in court on Wednesday, arguing that Carter has not been convicted of any crime related to the documents.

“How can I challenge them? he asked McAvoy. “Do we have a mini audience here?”

After sentencing Carter, the judge issued a mild warning.

“Just be careful choosing who you are,” he told Carter.

It’s unclear what’s next for Carter. Immigration officials were waiting in the courtroom and handed him papers ordering him to report to a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within the next few weeks. This will trigger deportation proceedings, but Carter, who married an American citizen, has already applied to stay in the country. His wife recently received a job offer in San Diego and the couple have applied for permission to move there, according to a pre-sentencing memo.

If he was deported, it is unclear what awaits him in Australia.

Carter allegedly posed as a multi-millionaire developer there and tricked women into handing over control of their financial assets to him, according to Australian reports. The stories include allegations that he hired a hitman to kill Katherine De Bois, his then-fiancée, after discovering that his wife, who he said had died of bone cancer, was in life.

When an Australian television reporter tracked him down at an Albany-area construction site prior to his arrest, Carter denied all allegations against him.

De Bois later wrote a book about his experiences. Carter was never charged with any crime related to his alleged fraud in Australia.

Carter has married at least two other women, according to Australian news reports, including a woman who immigrated with him to the United States in 2014. She now runs a business in Rensselaer County. She declined to speak with the Times Union when contacted in October 2019 and later she herself pleaded guilty to immigration-related charges.

The Carters entered the country in 2014 on E-2 investor visas, initially living in Boston, according to a copy of Paul Carter’s visa application obtained by The Times Union and court documents. The couple claimed to own a construction company. At some point, Paul Carter returned to Australia and became engaged to De Bois. The occasion was celebrated with a lavish party which she described in her book and which was also reported on social media.

But Paul Carter’s activities in the United States are what got him into trouble with the federal government. He returned to the United States and continued to live with his wife, and in 2018 when their visas were due to expire, they traveled to Toronto to apply for their second E-2 visa. They have been denied by the US State Department. However, the couple reportedly took advantage of a loophole in immigration law to buy themselves two more years of legal status in the United States until May 2020, according to court records.

The couple divorced in August 2019. Carter, who never married De Bois, later got engaged and married to Kelly Sayer, the lawyer who handled his divorce, according to court documents.

Carter was originally charged on April 7, 2021. When officers interviewed Carter, he admitted he had overstayed his visa and was in the process of changing his name to Paul Hamilton, according to the complaint. He pleaded guilty on September 15, 2021.

De Bois, who also later moved to the United States, was present for the sentencing. Then she said it was the start of a longer process.

“I think he did well,” she said. “But there is more to come.”

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