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Alleged $350,000 fraud: American government submits 97,000-page material against Abidemi Rufai

The United States of America (USA) Government has produced  a 97,000-page material against the embattled Nigerian, Abidemi Rufai who is facing a criminal charge of alleged $350,000 coronavirus unemployment fraud.

Pelican Brief

Penpushing reports that the voluminous material produced at the America District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma, on July 26, is preparatory for the trial of Rufai, who has been in detention since his arrest on May 24, 2021

The prosecution and the defence  in the document jointly filed asked for the postponement of the August 31 trial date, arguing that  the discovery in the case is voluminous and complex

“On July 26, 2021, the government produced approximately 97,000 pages of material. In addition, the government is in the process of executing two additional electronic search warrants. The discovery includes electronic documents in a variety of formats,” the document said

Penpushing further reports that, the statement added that, both parties posited that in view of the materials which contained personal identifying information or sensitive financial information, and considering  the nature of the material they  agreed that a protective order is required to restrict defendant’s review of the material to certain authorised places

The American government, it is recalled in new alleged fraud filed a document at a United States Courthouse, in Tacoma, Washington, on June 23, that a transcript of a recorded call between the accused  and his brother on May 25 was discovered, four days after a hearing on his detention, desperately looking for a person to stand surety for a $300,000 bail bond earlier granted him by a magistrate’s court.

The Acting  United States of America (USA). Attorney, Tessa Gorma, in the filed documents pointed out that, it was evident from the recording that presentation of the surety as a friend of the accused was false.

Penpushing  reports that, the Attorney in the document posited that, it was glaring that Rufai does not even know the surety, adding that  Rufai’s brother in the voice note stated that they found a lady to set up the bail

“It is evident from the recording that the defence’s presentation of the surety as a friend of Rufai was false, and that, in fact, Rufai does not even know the surety. In the call, Rufai’s brother states that ‘they found a lady to set up the bail’

The Attorney added that, the accused in the call had asked   if the surety’s husband is in New York or Nigeria, stating that, his  brother responded that the said surety’s husband  resident in New York, and  the duo  thereafter  discussed the fact that the surety might withdraw because of pressure on her family in Nigeria resulting from publicity about the case

Penpushing further  reports that, the authorities said the accused and his brother in the call, discussed the possibility of getting another surety, and gave assurance that he(accused) would be able to provide fund and that his brother should not be afraid about that

“They discussed the possibility of obtaining another surety. Whoever you can get, I don’t know, do you understand? No matter how it is, I will pay the money. Do you understand? Just leave that alone. I will pay the money… The money is available. You don’t have to be afraid of that’, the document stated.

“Rufai was present when the surety gave testimony that led the magistrate judge to believe she and Rufai knew one another well enough for her to be a suitable surety and third-party custodian..In fact, Rufai did not even know ‘the lady’ and did not know basic biographical information about her. The recording also makes clear that Rufai has significant assets (at least enough to cover a $300,000 bond), which he is willing to use, however, he can to secure his own release.

“This is contrary to his statement to Pretrial Services in New York that his only asset is $6,000 in the United States and $10,000 in Nigerian checking and savings account. And, the recording shows that Rufai and his brother conspired to set up a replacement sham surety to buy Rufai’s release.

“The provision of false information to the court and Pretrial Services ‘indicates a willingness by the defendant to obstruct the criminal justice process’, and should be considered in evaluating detention because it bears on the defendant’s character.

“This new information, together with that previously provided, makes clear that defendant presents an extreme flight risk who cannot be expected to observe conditions of release or appear for court. The court should revoke the release order.”

Penpushing  reports that, it is recalled that, Rufai, a former aide of Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State  was arrested on May 14, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York while heading to Nigeria.

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