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Nigerian jailed 3 yrs in the US for 419

*Man to be deported after jail term

- Masterweb News Desk

( Wednesday, May 10, 2006 )

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"Oshinaike blamed his criminality on cocaine, marijuana and alcohol abuse."

Oluyomi Oshinaike, a Nigerian resident in Atlanta, was sentenced to almost 3 years in prison on Tuesday, April 11 by a U.S. federal judge in Mobile for bank fraud. Oshinaike recruited people in the Mobile, Alabama area to allow their bank accounts to be used to deposit bogus checks. The checks were intercepted at a postal facility in Atlanta, Georgia by a postal worker in the criminal syndicate and then altered.

Oshinaike, 24, was charged with depositing bogus checks totaling more than $227,000 into the bank accounts of a woman he met at an Atlanta nightclub and the woman's mother. He was part of an operation U.S. federal prosecutors said involved between $1 million and $2.5 million in altered checks. Oshinaike and his criminal gang told various lies to persuade people to cooperate. One version involved a wealthy father in Nigeria who needed help getting money out of the country.

Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr. rejected pleas for leniency and sentenced Oshinaike to three years and five months. He would be turned over to U.S. immigration authorities for deportation after serving his jail term.

Oshinaike blamed his criminality on cocaine, marijuana and alcohol abuse. He told the judge..."I'm really sorry. I accept full responsibility for what I've done. There's nothing I can say to justify what I've done, but yeah, I was into drugs." Oshinaike's sister, Lola, in tears told the judge her brother was a good person who made mistakes. "He just got mixed up in the wrong ..." she added.

Oshinaike was raised in Lagos, Nigeria and was sexually abused by a house maid, abandoned by his father, according to court documents presented by the defense. He came to the U.S. at age 20 and had been living with relatives in the Atlanta area. His wife recently gave birth to his second daughter.

Okwudili "Cowboy" Umenyiora and Adrian Chike Okakpu, both of whom played more prominent roles in the bogus checks 419 conspiracy were earlier given jail terms. They both pleaded guilty and were given slightly less jail time than Oshinaike. Oshinaike was the only defendant to take the case to trial.

The scheme was unearthed in 2004 by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service after getting reports of large deposits in a woman's credit union account. Investigators contacted the businesses that issued the checks and discovered they were originally made not to the woman, but to other companies. The probe led to the Atlanta-area mail sorting center. A former employee, Andrew Byrant Gunn, pleaded guilty in federal court in Atlanta and has been sent to prison for his role.

Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr.
Photo Above: Senior U.S. District Judge Charles Butler Jr., U.S. District Court, Southern District of Alabama
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