Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III, sentenced Asomah Maamah, age 49, of Columbia, Maryland to seven years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, after Maamah pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit interstate foreign transport of motor vehicles and knowingly transporting stolen vehicles. Judge Russell III has also ordered Maamah to pay restitution in the amount of $195,281.20.
The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Baltimore Port Director Adam Rottman of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Colonel Kevin M. Anderson, Chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police; and Chief Lisa D. Myers of the Howard County Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, Maamah participated in the theft and exportation of at least 17 vehicles worth approximately $863,653. The members of the conspiracy fraudulently stole the vehicles directly from victims and rental facilities. After the arrangement for sale, vehicles were loaded into shipping containers that would then be exported to foreign destinations, most commonly, Africa. As part of the scheme to defraud, Maamah facilitated the creation of fraudulent paperwork to present to customs officials which misrepresented the true contents of the shipping containers. For example, in late 2018, Maamah was observed at the scene of a vehicle loading where a known stolen car was located. Maamah’s paperwork for the shipment falsely listed “Tutu Seth” as the exporter and listed the vehicle as a Cadillac when, in reality, the vehicle was a Range Rover.
On January 15, 2019, Maamah was approached by Howard County Police and agents from the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Border Enforcement Security Team (BEST) after he arrived at a surveilled location. In an interview with law enforcement, Maamah denied any knowledge or involvement in the exportation of stolen vehicles. He also claimed that company registered in his name had been used to ship vehicles without his permission and that he had not been involved with vehicle shipping for years.
As stated in his plea agreement, a review of Maamah’s personal email account revealed that Maamah arranged the shipment of stolen vehicles under the pseudonym “Tutu Seth” and often used his email to facilitate the creation of fraudulent paperwork.
A review of Maamah’s three cell phones revealed numerous photographs of stolen vehicles, including several stolen vehicles that were seized inside shipping containers. The phones also included messages relating to a recently interdicted container that contained two falsely declared stolen vehicles. Investigators also discovered a second email address that was used to communicate with a shipping company concerning the exportation of cars.
Maamah was arrested pursuant to a federal criminal complaint on March 4, 2020. At the time of his arrest, Maamah was found inside a car that had been fraudulently rented and was over-due. Although Maamah initially denied any criminal conduct or knowledge of stolen vehicles, he ultimately admitted to law enforcement that an associate informed him the vehicles previously shipped to Africa were stolen and that he knew the titles of the vehicles within the shipping containers did not match the paperwork given to the truck driver or the shipping company.
Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner praised the HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, and the Howard County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok. who prosecuted the case.
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