WASHINGTON – A 10-count federal indictment was unsealed today in the Eastern District of Virginia charging Stephen Bekale, Reynaldo “Christian” Villarroel, Maritza Villarroel, Irma DeMartini and Jamal Ibraheem with conspiring to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to the indictment, Bekale, 31, of Indianapolis, fraudulently obtained matching funds from Bank of America’s charitable arm after he allegedly falsely certified that charitable contributions had been made to his nonprofit organization “Hoops for Africa” by Bank of America employees. His co-defendants, Martiza Villarroel, 34, of Clifton, Va.; Irma DeMartini, 28, of Sterling, Va.; Jamal Ibraheem, 38, of Bethesda, Md.; and Reynaldo Villarroel, 38, of Bolivia, are former Bank of America employees who allegedly received kickbacks from Bekale for falsely certifying that donations were made in their names and/or for recruiting additional bank employees to participate in Bekale’s fraud scheme.
Bekale was arrested by FBI agents today in Indianapolis, and he made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The remaining four defendants will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., at a later date.
According to the indictment, from approximately March 2007 through May 2009, approximately 31 Bank of America employees at three different banking locations logged onto the website for Bank of America’s Matching Gifts Program and certified that they donated money to “Hoops for Africa.” The alleged fraudulent employee donations to “Hoops for Africa” ranged from $1,300 to $7,500 per donation, and a total of 57 matching gift requests were received by Bank of America’s charitable arm. As a result of those falsely registered donations, Bank of America eventually processed 55 of the transactions and disbursed through its charitable foundation approximately $276,600 in matching gifts to “Hoops for Africa.” Bekale is also charged with conducting a monetary transaction using the proceeds of the fraud.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud. Bekale faces an additional maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the money laundering charge.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lytle of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Eric L. Gibson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI.