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Press Release

Former paralegal sentenced in Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation theft scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Texas

PLANO, Texas– A Melissa woman has been sentenced to federal prison for violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs today.

Nnenna Mary Jones, 40, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Sean D. Jordan on Dec. 20, 2023.  Jones was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $16,950.

According to information presented in court, the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity in Plano, Texas, serves Muslim women and their families who are survivors of domestic and family violence.  The Foundation offers its clients in-house legal assistance with the immigration process, among other services.  The Foundation advertises that it offers its services—including immigration legal assistance—free of charge.  Jones worked for the Foundation as a paralegal and was a Department of Justice Accredited Representative, which allowed her to represent clients in court in immigration matters with the Department of Homeland Security.  She was also a licensed attorney in Nigeria before moving to the United States.

The Foundation’s legal team routinely requests waivers of certain fees its clients incur during the immigration process, and most of its clients qualify for these waivers.  If the Foundation’s clients do not qualify for a waiver of the immigration fees, then at times the Foundation pays the fee.  However, Jones represented to clients of the Foundation that they were required to pay certain fees to the government in relation to their immigration proceedings.  In reality, the clients’ fees had either been waived by the government or paid by the Foundation.  Clients wrote checks and obtained money orders in the amounts of the fees Jones told them they owed to the government.  However, Jones instructed the clients to leave the “pay to” line on the checks and money orders blank.  Jones photocopied the clients’ checks and money orders, wrote “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” on the “pay to” line of the photocopied checks and money orders, and placed the photocopies in the clients’ files.  Jones then wrote her own name in the “pay to” line of the clients’ original checks and money orders and cashed them or deposited them into her own accounts.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J. Taylor. 

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Updated December 22, 2023