Baltimore, Maryland – As a result of a law enforcement operation on February 7, 2024, 10 defendants were arrested at locations throughout Maryland and three search warrants were executed related to an alleged money laundering conspiracy involving more than $9.5 million in proceeds from fraud schemes. Law enforcement agents from the Homeland Security Investigations Mid-Atlantic El-Dorado Task Force, the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service participated in yesterday’s searches and arrests. Additional defendants are currently fugitives.
A federal grand jury in Maryland returned two indictments last year that were unsealed upon the arrests of the defendants. The following defendants were arrested in connection with these two cases.
Case Number: 23-CR-411 (MJM)
1. Adanegbe Gift Osemwenkhae, age 38, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland;
2. Emily Gil Arias, age 26, of Silver Spring, Maryland;
3. Fatoumata Boiro, age 30, of Largo, Maryland;
4. Lakeisha Parker, age 31, of Baltimore;
5. Martin Ogisi, age 35, of Severn, Maryland;
6. Blondel Ndjouandjouaka, age 30, of Silver Spring, Maryland;
7. Kevin Colon, age 33, of Curtis Bay, Maryland; and
8. Lorena Perez Herrera, age 27, of Silver Spring, Maryland.
Case Number: 23-CR-304 (MJM)
9. Yahye Sowe, a/k/a “Cash,” age 40, of Largo, Maryland; and
10. Areal El-Lovieta Harris, age 24, of Hanover, Maryland.
The defendants had initial appearances yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Austin. Osemwenkhae, Ogisi, and Ndjouandjouaka consented to detention, Sowe and Boiro were detained pending detention hearings scheduled for February 9, 2024, and the remaining defendants were released on conditions under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.
The indictments were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Baltimore; Special Agent in Charge Kareem A. Carter of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation (“IRS-CI”), Washington, D.C. Field Office; Special Agent in Charge Nicolas Evans of the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General (“EPA OIG”); and Special Agent in Charge Ken DeChellis, of the Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service - Cyber Field Office (“DCIS”).
According to the indictments, the defendants allegedly created and used limited liability companies and other shell businesses to open bank accounts on which the shell entities were listed as the account holders. Members of the conspiracy had signature authority for the bank accounts, at times using aliases or stolen identities. The defendants and their co-conspirators used the bank accounts to receive money obtained from the fraud victims. The victims included government agencies, organizations, and companies, such as an environmental trust, an urban redevelopment program, a medical center, a transportation and logistics company, a school district, a college, and a county government, among others. Some of the co-conspirators obtained and used forged and counterfeited identification documents, including documents bearing the names of individual identity theft victims.
As detailed in the indictments, the victims were deceived into sending money to the conspirators’ bank accounts based on false pretenses, such as being provided with false bank account information for legitimate vendor payments and false wire transfer information for legitimate transactions. After the fraudulently obtained funds were received in the bank accounts, the defendants and their co-conspirators allegedly engaged in financial transactions to conceal and disguise the nature and source of the money through cash withdrawals, the purchase of cashier’s checks, debit card transactions, and by transferring funds to other bank accounts controlled by the conspirators.
According to the indictments, the defendants obtained and used a portion of the fraud proceeds for themselves. The defendants allegedly used some of the fraud proceeds to purchase vehicles, some of which were shipped or attempted to be shipped outside the United States. As alleged in the indictment, the defendants also engaged in international financial transactions and caused fraud proceeds to be sent outside the United States.
The indictment further alleges that the defendants in case 23-CR-411 (MJM) and their co-conspirators collectively conducted and attempted to conduct financial transactions involving more than $9.5 million in fraud proceeds. The indictment in 23-CR-304 (MJM) alleges that the defendants and their co-conspirators conducted and attempted to conduct financial transactions involving more than $2 million in fraud proceeds.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the conspiracy and for each count of money laundering. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the HSI Mid-Atlantic El Dorado Task Force, IRS-CI, EPA-OIG, and DCIS for their work in the investigation and recognized the Anne Arundel County, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County Police Departments for their assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Harry M. Gruber and Stephanie Williamson, who are prosecuting these cases. He also recognized the assistance of the Paralegal Specialist Joanna B.N. Huber.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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