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Former Suwanee man arrested on bigamy charges

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A former Suwanee resident was arrested Monday on bigamy charges, his wife claiming he falsified documents to hide the fact he never divorced his first spouse.

According to a police report, 32-year-old Nipul Chandu Patel married his current wife in Gwinnett County in July 2009 after "he showed her paperwork that he did get a divorce from his previous wife." The couple since moved to Richland County, S.C., where Patel's wife recently began "living in a women's shelter due to him committing domestic violence against her."

When the alleged victim told local authorities she wanted to press charges, they began an investigation -- one that ultimately revealed that her husband was never divorced and had showed her "counterfeit" paperwork, police said.

Since bigamy charges are typically filed where the marriage in question occurred, Patel was booked into Gwinnett County Jail Monday on a single felony charge. Jail records show he was released Tuesday on $5,700 bond.

Patel's alleged crime is a rare one in Gwinnett.

The former Suwanee resident's arrest on bigamy charges was just the second this year in the county, and the 10th since the start of 2007, according to online records.

In 2006, Gwinnett County officials made a series of arrests, booking two men and one woman for illegally marrying a total of 19 African men and women to help them gain citizenship.

Under Georgia law, a bigamy conviction carries a minimum of one year imprisonment.