Former President And Ceo Of Immigration Consultation Company Sentenced To Two Years In Prison For Fraud, Money Laundering
CAMDEN, N.J. - A Union, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 24 months in prison for providing fraudulent immigration documents involving sham marriages and attempting to deposit a fraudulent tax return check of more than $100,000, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Maxwell Poku, 36, a naturalized United States citizen from Ghana, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph E. Irenas to an information charging him with one count each of immigration fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Judge Irenas imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Poku was the president and CEO of Max$Max Finance and Travel LLC (Max$Max), a business with offices in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Orange, New Jersey and Ghana. Max$Max purported to offer immigration consultation and other services to the African community.
Poku admitted that he helped numerous individuals obtain immigration benefits to which they were not entitled by filing documents that falsely reflected that they were married to United States citizens. Poku admitted that he paid individuals to act as sham spouses and provided fraudulent letters of employment, utility bills, credit card statements, W-2 forms and tax return transcripts, which he downloaded and altered, to demonstrate the marital status of the immigrant petitioners.
Poku used forged Ghanaian government stamps, which he obtained from a store in New Jersey, as well as blank Ghanaian birth certificates. He used an iron and coffee to give the documents an aged appearance.
The money laundering count arose from an entirely separate scheme in which Poku came into possession of a refund check for $115,138 that was issued as a result of a fraudulent tax return. Poku admitted he incorporated a business entity in the state of New Jersey named “Brian Robinson Equipment Sales LLC,” opened a bank account at Sovereign Bank under that name, and deposited the refund check into the account. The sum was recovered by law enforcement before it could be withdrawn.
As part of the plea, Poku must forfeit to the United States $10,500, and computer media and equipment seized from Max$Max on the day of his arrest on August 10, 2012.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Irenas sentenced Poku to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a fine of $75,000.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Kevin Kelly; special agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Rodney A. Davis; and special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Carl Agnelli, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Danilewitz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.
Defense counsel: Henry E. Klingeman Esq., Newark, N.J.