February 8, 2007
FIVE CHARGED IN FALSE PASSPORT SCHEME
United States Attorney Patrick L. Meehan today announced the filing of an 11-count indictment* charging Andre T. Cephas, a/k/a “Husayn,” 38, Scottie J. Williams, 39, Josette J.M. Wilson, 35, and Juan G. Rutledge, a/k/a “Bucky,” 39, with conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, and making false statements in United States passport applications.
The charges relate to the defendants’ conducting a scheme to obtain fraudulent United States passports using their own identifying information and pictures of other people. The leader of the scheme was Nassar Rahmaan (charged separately) of the 800 block of South 16th St. in Philadelphia. Rahmaan promised the co-defendants thousands of dollars in cash for obtaining the fraudulent passports. Once they obtained the passports, they were to be sold by others in the conspiracy to foreign nationals and others.
“The defendants were recruited and were to be paid $1,000 to $1,500 per fraudulent passport they were able to obtain,” said Meehan.
"Passport fraud potentially threatens the national security of the United States. The U.S. passport and visa are two of the most coveted travel documents in the world, and those who have acquired passports and visas fraudulently could perpetrate further illegal acts to include terrorism. These crimes make the United States more vulnerable to terrorism, plain and simple," said Joe D. Morton, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service.
If convicted, Cephas, of Philadelphia, faces a maximum sentence of 65 years imprisonment, including a two-year mandatory minimum, three years supervised release, a $2.75 million fine, and an $1,100 special assessment. The other defendants face a maximum of 17 years imprisonment, including a two-year mandatory minimum, three years supervised release, a $750,000 fine, and a $300 special assessment. Williams resides in the 1900 block of Wharton Street in Philadelphia, Wilson resides in the 1600 Block of S. 55th Street in Philadelphia, and Rutledge resides in the 1500 block of Ringold Street in Philadelphia.
The United States Department of State investigated the case. The case has been assigned for prosecution to Assistant United States Attorney Richard J. Zack. For copies of the indictment and this release, please go to www.usdoj.gov/usao/pae.
STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
*An Indictment or Information is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Benjamin Franklin Photo by B. Krist for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation