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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


APRIL 16, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


TWO DEFENDANTS PLEAD GUILTY TO WIRE FRAUD

IN $13.1 MILLION TAX FRAUD SCHEME


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that two co-defendants pleaded guilty in federal court today to wire fraud for their roles in a multi-million dollar scheme that involved stealing the identities of hundreds of victims, primarily nursing home residents, then using the stolen identities to seek more than $13.1 million in fraudulent tax refunds.


             Vincent Niagwara Ogega, 24, a citizen of Kenya residing in Independence, Mo., and Rashira Lewis, 20, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge John T. Maughmer this afternoon to the charge contained in a July 18, 2007, federal indictment.


             Ogega is a former employee of Wilshire At Lakewood nursing home in Lee's Summit, Mo., Beautiful Savior Home in Belton, Mo., and Country Club Care Center and Johnson County Care Center in Warrensburg, Mo. He admitted that, from April 21 to Aug. 21, 2006, he participated in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service out of money by cashing checks that constituted proceeds from fictitious tax returns. The returns were filed via the Internet using the names and identifying information of nursing home patients in the Kansas City area.


             Ogega’s role in the conspiracy was to cash the checks and provide the proceeds to other conspirators in exchange for being paid a flat rate fee. Specifically, Ogega admitted to participating in and aiding and abetting 12 fraudulent financial transactions totaling $81,000 from April 21 to Aug. 11, 2006.


             Lewis admitted that, from Feb. 2, 2005, to July 19, 2007, she participated in a wire fraud scheme. Lewis’ role in the scheme was to receive fraudulent refunds into her bank accounts and then withdraw the money and provide it to her co-conspirators. In total, Lewis admitted, the attempted loss attributable to her conduct is $222,944.


             Lewis registered a fictitious business called Montina Share Vacations with the Missouri Department of State in early 2006, then opened business and personal accounts at three separate banks, for which she was paid $1,000 by co-conspirators. Lewis received fraudulent tax returns into those bank accounts, withdrew the money and provided it to her co-conspirators. She was paid $200 for withdrawing the funds. Lewis also wrote checks from her account to other individuals.


             Specifically, Lewis admitted to participating in and aiding and abetting 10 fraudulent financial transactions between June 22 and Aug. 4, 2006.


            Under federal statutes, Ogega and Lewis each could be subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel M. Nelson and Assistant U.S. Attorney Curt Bohling. It was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Secret Service.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html