Joseph P. Russoniello, United States Attorney
Northern District of California
Emmanuel Ejike Anyanwu Used Identity of U.S. Citizen to Apply for Residency
Emmanuel Ejike Anyanwu was convicted of immigration fraud, conspiracy and aggravated identity theft by a federal jury yesterday, United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello announced.
The jury, after deliberating for five hours, found that Emmanuel Anyanwu, a citizen of Nigeria applying for permanent residency in the United States, falsely claimed on his residency application that he was married to a U.S. citizen. The jury also found that Emmanuel Anyanwu used the identity of his claimed U.S. citizen wife without permission, thereby committing aggravated identity theft. The guilty verdict followed a four-day jury trial before U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer in San Francisco.
“Identity theft is a serious crime that scars a victim’s reputation, dignity, and financial security,” said U.S. Attorney Russoniello. “This case demonstrates that federal agencies can work together to uncover fraud, even when witnesses and documents are located outside the United States.”
Evidence at trial showed that Emmanuel Anyanwu, 36, submitted a sham marriage certificate both to the Alameda County, Calif., Recorder’s Office, and to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that oversees residency petitions. The investigation of the defendant started when his claimed U.S. citizen wife discovered that her name appeared on a marriage certificate filed with Alameda County authorities.
“Marriage fraud undermines the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system, potentially robbing deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve,” said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Francisco. “Schemes like this also pose a significant security vulnerability because they leave the door open for people, including criminals and terrorists, to enter the United States and remain here illegally. The conviction in this case demonstrates that those who engage in this type of fraud can face criminal charges for their actions.”
Emmanuel Anyanwu is the third person in his immediate family to be convicted after a federal jury trial before Judge Breyer. Anyanwu’s sister and co-defendant Linda Ngozi Ashiegbu was convicted of making a false statement on an immigration document in December 2008. His sister Doris Akuyoma Anyanwu was convicted of conspiracy, and two counts of false statements, after a trial in October 2008. They have both appealed their convictions.
A federal grand jury indicted Emmanuel Anyanwu and his sister Linda Ashiegbu on Oct. 16, 2007, each on charges of conspiracy and making false statements on immigration documents. Emmanuel Anyanwu was arrested on May 27, 2009, while hiding in a closet at Doris Anyanwu’s residence. He has been in continuous custody since his arrest. In September 2009, the grand jury added a charge of aggravated identity theft against Emmanuel Anyanwu.
Emmanuel Anyanwu was represented at trial by privately-retained attorney Alonzo J. Gradford, of Modesto, Calif.
The sentencing of Emmanuel Anyanwu is scheduled for March 31, 2010, before Judge Breyer in San Francisco. The aggravated identity theft conviction requires a mandatory two-year prison sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. The maximum statutory penalty for a false statement on an immigration document is 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine; and for conspiracy, five years and a $250,000 fine. The defendant’s sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes governing sentencing.
Nat Cousins and Tracie L. Brown are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted Emmanuel Anyanwu at trial. Assistant U.S. Attorney Allison M. Danner directed the initial investigation and prosecuted co-defendant Linda Ashiegbu. Legal assistants Rosario Calderon and Rayneisha Booth and paralegal Suzanne Pouteau assisted the investigation and trial. The prosecution culminates a two-year investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with the assistance of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, and the Internal Revenue Service.
January 15, 2010 415-436-6599