Ghana Native Pleads Guilty To Obtaining U.S. Citizenship By Fraud
KANSAS CITY, KAN. – A native of Ghana who obtained naturalized U.S. citizenship in 2004 has pleaded guilty to obtaining citizenship by fraud and faces possible deportation, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Monday.
Ernest Opoku Acheampong, 44, Shawnee, Kan., entered a guilty plea Monday before U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson and is scheduled to be sentenced July 29. Because he pleaded guilty to making a false statement on his application for U.S. citizenship and ultimately became a naturalized U.S. citizen, federal law requires that his citizenship be revoked, Grissom said.
“Not only will his certificate of naturalization be cancelled, he will be placed in removal proceedings,” Grissom said. “And, he faces possible incarceration in the criminal case. People who make false statements in their attempt to become naturalized U.S. citizens undermine the process and dishonor those seeking citizenship honestly.”
During court proceedings Monday, Acheampong admitted that he first entered the United States in 1994, claiming to be a “Michael Smith” from Libya. He was denied entry, but requested asylum and sought to remain in the U.S. His claims of fear of persecution were found to be unfounded and he was ordered deported, but Acheampong never surrendered himself for deportation.
In 1996, Acheampong was able to obtain a valid entry visa under his true name and country of citizenship, Ghana, and ultimately applied for naturalized U.S. citizenship in 2004, but failed to disclose his previous entry into the United States and the prior order of deportation on his naturalization application. He was granted naturalized U.S. citizenship in September 2004, Grissom said.
However, in August 2014, when Acheampong applied for a Kansas driver’s license, officials of the Kansas Department of Revenue determined through facial recognition software employed whenever people apply for state ID cards or driver’s licenses that the defendant had previously obtained a Kansas driver’s license under the name “Michael Smith.”
Their agents then notified the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), who completed the investigation and documented what Acheampong had done. Acheampong was indicted in the case in October.
Grissom praised the agencies for their work on their case and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson for his prosecution.