- Former Ogun state official, Abidemi Rufai is on a verge of at least 32 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to COVID-19 relief funds fraud
- However, the prosecutors have recommended at least a 71 months sentence, but U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle has vowed to deliver appropriate judgement
- It was gathered that Rufai had been defrauding Americans since 2017 prior to the recent COVID-19 relief funds fraud
US, Washington - Former special assistant to the Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun state, Abidemi Rufai has pleaded guilty to allegations bordering on the illegal obtainment of bio-data of over 20, 000 Americans to defraud agencies in the United States millions of dollars.
According to a report by PremiumTimes, It was gathered that Rufai used the personal information of these U.S citizens to obtain more than $2 million in COVID-19 relief funds funded by the United States government.
The 45-year-old who has been in the custody since May 2022 was nabbed at New York’s JFK airport. In his plea before the US District Court in Tacoma, it was gathered that Rufai had been defrauding agencies of unemployment benefits for Americans since 2017.
In September and October 2017, it was revealed that Rufai submitted 49 disaster relief claims connected to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. He filed $24,500 in false claims and was paid on 13 claims totaling $6,500.
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The Attorney’s Office of the U.S Department of Justice Western District of Washington noted that these affected agencies paid more than $600,000.
It was further gathered that Rufai's orchestrated fraud was also extended to the Washington State Employment Security Department, where $350,763 was paid out for a false pandemic unemployment claim.
It was gathered that the fraud against the Washington State Employment Security Department was the largest amount of fraud as Rufai also tabled false unemployment claims to at least 17 other states in the US.
The US Department of Justice Western District of Washington as reported by PremiumTimes further revealed that Rufai duped Small Business Administration (SBA).
"Rufai also defrauded the Small Business Administration (SBA) by attempting to obtain Economic Injury Disaster loans (EIDL) tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between April 8, 2020, and June 26, 2020, he submitted 19 fraudulent EIDL applications. SBA paid out $10,000 based on the applications.
"Between 2017 and 2020, Rufai attempted to obtain more than $1.7 million in IRS tax refunds by submitting 675 false claims. The IRS paid out $90,877 on these claims."
Governor Abiodun’s aide Rufai agrees to full restitution – US court
Meanwhile, Rufai has agreed to pay full restitution to the numerous agencies affected by his fraudulent activities.
However, it was gathered that Rufai risked being imprisoned for 30 years, as a result of the stipulations of the law over wire fraud.
Also in relation to the stipulations of the law, unlawful obtainment of identity is punishable for two years.
The prosecutors have however agreed to recommend no more than 71 months in prison, but contrastingly, the submission by the prosecutors is not binding on U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle who in August 2022 vowed that appropriate sentencing will be delivered in judgment.
Ogun 2023: Governor Abiodun’s reelection bid under scrutiny as alleged past criminal offences surface
In another related story, the former boss of Abidemi Rufai, Governor Dapo Abiodun is currently under immense pressure for reelection as criminal allegations of his past surfaces.
The incumbent governor has been accused of being convicted for fraud-related activities in the United States sometimes in the 80s.
It was gathered that this allegations might affect his reelection bid for a second term in office following a recent petition for his disqualification.
Governor Abiodun dismisses 1986 US fraud conviction claim
Meanwhile, the Ogun state governor, Dapo Abiodun has reacted to the allegations linking him to an alleged fraud conviction in the United States.
The governor in his response said the allegations were a mere attempt to jeopardize his second term governorship bid.
He however stated the allegations were not enough to disqualify him from contesting his reelection as governor of Ogun state