U.S. Department of Justice
Donald A. Davis, United States Attorney
Western District of Michigan
Nehemiah Muzamhindo, 44, of Kentwood, Michigan, and Tichaona Machamire, 37, of Berrien Springs, Michigan, were arrested Thursday morning for defrauding the W.K. Kellogg Foundation out of approximately $800,000, U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis announced today. Mr. Davis was joined in the announcement by Joseph P. Hooten, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Chicago Field Office. A third defendant, Sabina Brand, 37, of South Africa, is currently the subject of an extradition request from that country.The five-count indictment charges the defendants with a conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, as well as separate wire fraud and money laundering offenses. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum possible sentence of five years in prison and other penalties. The wire fraud and money laundering charges carry maximum terms of 20 years in prison and other penalties.
The alleged scheme to defraud the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, an international charitable foundation which promotes child welfare, was initially uncovered by DSS Special Agents while investigating Muzamhindo and Machamire for passport fraud. According to the five-count indictment unsealed today, Muzamhindo and Machamire created shell business entities in Michigan with names that were intentionally similar to organizations that had legitimate business relations with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The indictment further alleges the shell business entities were created solely to receive payments from fraudulent invoices submitted to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and that the fraudulent invoices were created to represent work in furtherance of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s charitable activities in Africa.
The indictment alleges Brand, a former employee of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, created the phony invoices and approved them for payment. Thereafter, Brand allegedly arranged for funds to be wired from W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s bank account in South Africa to bank accounts in Michigan opened and controlled by Muzamhindo and Machamire. A portion of these fraudulently obtained funds were then wired to multiple bank accounts for the benefit of Brand.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy VerHey and has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Janet Neff.
The charges in an Indictment are only allegations of criminal conduct, and the defendants are presumed innocent until their guilt is established in court by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Timothy P. Verhey
Assistant U.S. Attorney