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Tonight at 11: Beach teacher in prison for marriage fraud fights to overturn conviction

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Posted at 5:23 PM, Oct 02, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-02 23:17:14-04

A respected Virginia Beach teacher talks for the first time about her arrest.

Prosecutors say the woman from Belarus was part of a phony-bride scam. But she says her marriage was real.

She spoke exclusively with investigator Mike Mather.

You always hear there are two sides to every story, and in this story, the two sides could not be more far apart.

A federal judge said Natallia Liapina was a calculating actress, tricking everyone just to get her green card. But Natallia says that's not true. She was in love and her marriage was real. Her friends and family say she was an excellent teacher and an honest and caring person.

Related: 

Man fighting deportation due to accusations of marriage fraud against family

They can't believe the woman they came to know and love is in prison for marriage fraud. Natallia's friends and her youngest son, Ivan, are trying to help her appeal her conviction.

Natallia's supporters have launched a fundraising effort to pay for her appeal, and her family has given us recordings of jailhouse phone calls that, they say, cast doubt on the government's case. You'll hear those tonight at 11.