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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 12, 2015

Antioch Woman Charged With Fraudulently Obtaining Citizenship

SAN JOSE – Vivian Chike Obichere was arraigned on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015, on charges of making false statements in passport applications, unlawfully obtaining naturalization, and committing perjury in two interviews concerning her application for citizenship, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Special Agent in Charge David Zebley of the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Obichere, 61, of Antioch, on Jan. 6, 2015. According to the indictment, Obichere submitted a fraudulent passport application using the identity of a deceased American citizen. The indictment also alleges that Obichere lied about her use of the false identity in her application to become a naturalized American citizen, which she filed in her own identity, and in the interviews concerning her naturalization application. As a result of those lies, Obichere’s application for American citizenship was granted. According to the indictment, Obichere also lied about her use of the false identity in a subsequent passport application submitted in her own identity after becoming a citizen.

Obichere was arrested at her home early Friday morning and made her initial appearance in federal court in San Jose that afternoon. Obichere was released on bond. Bail was set at $50,000. Obichere’s next scheduled appearance is at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 9, 2015, before the Honorable Edward J. Davila, United States District Court Judge.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1542 (false statement in application for a passport) and 1425(b) (unlawful naturalization), and a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000, for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1621 (perjury). However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Rita F. Lin is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Marina Ponomarchuk. The prosecution is the result of an investigation led by the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service’s representative to the Document and Benefit Fraud Task Force (DBFTF) overseen by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. The DBFTF is a multi-agency task force that coordinates investigations into fraudulent immigration documents.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s Office of Fraud Detection and National Security also assisted with the investigation.

Updated September 1, 2015