BANGOR — Federal prosecutors in Maine say at least 25 people have been involved in a scheme to arrange sham marriages with immigrants seeking to remain permanently in the United States.

Five Maine residents have pleaded guilty in federal court in Bangor to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud.

In July, two Massachusetts men, 38-year-old Rashid Kakande of Woburn and 49-year-old James Mbugua of Springfield, were charged with paying Maine residents to marry or recruit others to marry immigrants.

Mbugua disappeared in October two weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin. He is now a fugitive.

The Bangor Daily News says that on Monday a federal magistrate denied Kakande permission to travel to his native Uganda to see family.