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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Nigerian National Sentenced to 30 Months in Federal Prison after Pleading Guilty to Forgery and False Use of a Passport, Misusing a Visa, and Money Laundering

Admitted Laundering More Than $300,000 in a Fraud Scheme, Using at least Five False Identities

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake today sentenced Johnson Olatunji Ogunyemi, age 50, a Nigerian national residing in Owings Mills, Maryland, to 30 months in federal prison, after Ogunyemi pleaded guilty to forgery and false use of a passport, fraud and misuse of a visa, and money laundering.  Judge Blake also ordered Ogunyemi to forfeit $105,561.

The guilty plea and sentence were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur and Special Agent in Charge Edwin Guard of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Washington Field Office.

According to his plea agreement, Ogunyemi is a Nigerian national who arrived in the United States on January 31, 2015.  Ogunyemi was authorized to remain until July 30, 2015, but did not leave the U.S.  On August 16, 2017, the New Carrollton Police Department (“NCPD”) arrested Ogunyemi at a bank in New Carrollton, Maryland, after Ogunyemi presented a fraudulent Nigerian passport and visa in the name of Benjamin Smith to the teller to conduct a financial transaction.  During the arrest, NCPD took possession of three Nigerian passports with U.S. visas, all with Ogunyemi’s photo, but in the names of Benjamin Smith, Benjamin Johnson, and John Wale, as well as a Nigerian driver’s license in the name of Benjamin Smith and an Ohio driver’s license in the name of David Durston recovered from Ogunyemi or from the vehicle that he drove to the bank.

As detailed in his plea agreement, on November 10, 2017, Diplomatic Security Service (“DSS”) agents arrested Ogunyemi at his residence in Owings Mills.  When DSS arrived at the residence to execute the arrest warrant, Ogunyemi absconded through a third-floor balcony and attempted to flee.  DSS also executed a search warrant on Ogunyemi’s vehicle and found an additional Nigerian passport and Nigerian Driver’s License containing Ogunyemi’s photo in the name of Ola Badru, as well as mail addressed to Ogunyemi’s other known aliases. The Department of Homeland Security Forensic Laboratory determined that all of the identity documents recovered from Ogunyemi or his vehicles were counterfeit.  Ogunyemi admitted that he assumed at least five identities in the United States, including four for which he possessed altered Nigerian passports, each containing a forged United States visa.

Ogunyemi further admitted that he participated in a fraud scheme.  Specifically, Ogunyemi opened bank accounts in the names of his various aliases, using the false passports and visas, as well as the name of a purported business.  Ogunyemi received wire transfers, check and cash deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars into the bank accounts that he exercised control over.  Ogunyemi knew that the funds that he received and deposited into his accounts were the proceeds of unlawful activity, including scams against vulnerable individuals and the defrauding of businesses by email hacking and/or by counterfeit checks.  Ogunyemi, using his various aliases, used the proceeds received and deposited into his accounts to conduct financial transactions in an effort to conceal the unlawful source of the funds.  

The amount of money laundered by Ogunyemi as part of the conspiracy was at least $307,300.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended DSS for their work in the investigation and thanked the New Carrollton Police Department for its assistance.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joan C. Mathias and Tamera L. Fine, who prosecuted the case.

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Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated June 12, 2019