New charge emerges for Abidemi Rufai in US

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Abidemi Rufai, the Nigerian accused of defrauding Washington’s Employment Security Department in last year’s unemployment fraud attack faces additional charge in the U.S.

MyNorthwest.com reported on Tuesday that Rufai is also accused of submitting fraudulent claims for FEMA disaster relief, the IRS, and the Small Business Administration, going back to 2017.

The Nigerian politician from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State is considered by investigators to be the first major player arrested in Washington’s unemployment fraud attack, in which criminals are estimated to have stolen at least $650 million.

Now Federal attorneys in the Western District of Washington are battling to block a bail granted to him last week by a Federal magistrate in New York.

The news platform said an appeal has been filed before a western district judge in Washington state.

The Western District judge has until June 4 to make a decision on that appeal, reports MyNorthwest.com

Last week, a different judge in the Eastern District of New York had decided to release Abidemi Rufai on $300,000 bail, pending the decision on the appeal.

Rufai was to be released to the home of a family friend Nekpen Soyemi, a nurse with an address on Long Island. Until the appeal is decided, Rufai remains behind bars.

However, federal attorneys stated in their appeal that Rufai’s bail placement was a risky one, as the husband of Rufai’s would-be guardian was convicted in 2014 of buying the stolen personal information of dozens of people and using it to commit fraud.

“We do not think it’s appropriate that someone who’s been accused of wire fraud would be released into a home where — of the couple, the two people living there — the male part of the couple has already been convicted federally of wire fraud,” Langlie said.

She explained that it is standard practice to keep someone released on bail away from former felons.

“Generally, when someone is going to be released on bond, one of the conditions you often see is that they are not to associate with people who have criminal histories,” Langlie said.

The appeal also noted that Rufai’s named custodian was identified by her bank “as a suspect in an email impersonation and money laundering scheme.”

“The Western District of Washington believes that he needs to come out here and face these charges in the district where they’re filed,” said Emily Langlie, communication director at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.

Rufai’s travel documents were seized, and his movements, if he is released on bond, will be monitored with an ankle bracelet. He would also be forbidden from leaving the Eastern District of New York — or eventually, the Western District of Washington.

Besides the concern of guardianship, the appeal stated that Rufai is an extreme flight risk for several reasons.

For one, Rufai was already attempting to go back to Nigeria, and presumably would have done so had he not been detained; he was arrested at New York City’s JFK International Airport on May 14 while attempting to board a flight back to Nigeria, by way of Amsterdam.

The appeal noted that Rufai has no clear ties to the Western District of Washington, and has just one family member living in the United States.

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