Doris Anyanwu, 35, and Hyacinth Udeh, 37, both of San Ramon, California, a married couple, were convicted by a federal jury of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, four counts each of wire fraud, and four counts each of false claims to United States Citizenship. Anyanwu was also convicted of one count of money laundering.
Evidence at trial showed that Anyanwu and Udeh secured ten mortgages, totaling approximately $3,679,000 in loan proceeds, to purchase four residential properties located in Hayward, Calif., Oakland, Calif., and San Ramon, Calif., and to refinance property in Hayward.
The jury found that Anyanwu and Udeh, who are natives and citizens of Nigeria, conspired with Andrew Ashiegbu and his wife Linda Ashiegbu (the sister of Doris Anyanwu), and Ursula Ogamba, a family friend, to obtain loans from various lenders through fraudulent representations on the loan applications. The fraudulent representations included overstated gross monthly income, overstated asset balances, and false claims of United States citizenship. Fraudulent documentation such as verifications of rent, verifications of employment, W-2 forms, and altered bank statements were submitted with the fraudulent loan applications. Other individuals were recruited to assist in providing information to the lenders. Those individuals gave the lenders a false representation of the financial standing of Anyanwu and Udeh.
Andrew Ashiegbu was a broker licensed by the State of California, Department of Real Estate (DRE) and, together with his wife Linda Ashiegbu, a licensed salesperson, owned and operated New Era Mortgage and Realty, Union City, Calif. Hyacinth Udeh was licensed as a salesperson by the DRE under broker Andrew Ashiegbu at New Era Mortgage. Doris Anyanwu, who was trained in real estate, also worked at New Era Mortgage. Ursula Ogamba was licensed as a broker and salesperson by the DRE and the co-owner of EZ Mortgage Realty, Tracy, Calif.
In February 2011, Andrew Ashiegbu and Linda Ashiegbu pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and money laundering. Ursula Ogamba pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and false declarations before the grand jury. Doris Anyanwu, Hyacinth Udeh, Andrew Ashiegbu, and Linda Ashiegbu are scheduled to be sentenced on May 18, 2011. Ursula Ogamba is scheduled to be sentenced on May 25, 2011.
The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1349 is 30 years imprisonment and a fine of $1,000,000 or twice the gross gain or loss involved in the conspiracy, whichever is greater. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of wire fraud in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1343 is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for monetary transactions using criminally derived property in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957 is 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for false declarations before the grand jury is five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for false claim for United States Citizenship in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 911 is three years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. 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.
United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced the convictions.
Deborah Douglas and Joshua Hill are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted the case with the assistance of paralegal specialist Suzanne Pouteau, financial analyst Allen Williams, and legal assistants Rawaty Yim and Elise Etter. The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The guilty verdicts followed a one-week trial before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer.
This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes.