United States authorities have arrested one of its immigration officers, a Nigerian, who allegedly got American citizenship by fraud.
The Nigerian, whose original name is Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi, got United States citizenship by false name Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi.
He was arrested in April and is due in court next month.
Ifemembi, a 48-year-old, who previously resided in Aliso Viejo, but relocated to Rockville, Maryland, last year, has worked for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for seven years.
United States Department of Justice (DoJ) in a statement said Ifemembi is charged in the complaint with one count of unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship.
But a court document seen by The Guardian on Friday showed that Ifemembi has been charged with unlawful procurement of United States citizenship, making a false statement on a passport application, the use of Certificate of Naturalization procured by fraud, fraud and misuse of an immigration document, false Statements and aggravated identity theft.
DoJ disclosed that Ifemembi was arrested in Maryland on a federal charge that alleges he obtained U.S. citizenship under a false name.
He was found to have used different aliases including Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi, Karlos Geoffrey Mourfy, Karlos Mourfy, Karl M. Mourfy, Karlos Geoffrey Escoffery, and Nwabugwu Ifemembi.
“Ifemembi made false statements on various government forms to obtain U.S. citizenship, as well as employment with USCIS, according to the affidavit in support of the complaint, which was unsealed this morning,” DoJ said.
DoJ explained that Ifemembi first entered the United States in 2000 when he flew from France to Chicago with a British passport that had been issued to another person but had been altered to display Ifemembi’s photograph, according to the affidavit.
While immigration officials in Chicago caught Ifemembi, who admitted his fraudulent use of the U.K. passport, the affidavit states he ultimately was granted asylum after falsely claiming his real name was “Karlos Mourfy” and that he was a native of Sierra Leone.
After being granted asylum, Ifemembi attended the University of California, Berkeley, which granted him a bachelor’s degree in 2004, and then obtained J.D. from the University of Oregon, School of Law. Then, in late 2010, “Karlos Mourfy” applied for U.S. citizenship and asked to change his name to Ifemembi – requests that were granted in May 2011. Two years later, in 2013, Ifemembi was hired by USCIS, according to the affidavit.
During the investigation into Ifemembi, United States federal investigators traveled to Africa – including his hometown of Akuma, Nigeria – and searched his Orange County residence in 2019, obtaining evidence about his true identity, including baptism, school and financial records, the affidavit states.
“Ifemembi is scheduled to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland,” DoJ said.
“A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
“The charge of unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization carries a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, and upon conviction, U.S. citizenship is automatically revoked.”
The investigation into Ifemembi is being conducted by the United States Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – Office of Investigations, and the United States Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).
This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Charles E. Pell of the Santa Ana Branch Office.
Ifemembi’s is due for the first arraignment on Monday, June 7 2021 at the Southern Division – Santa Ana, 6B – 6th Floor.
Magistrate Judge of the court Douglas F. McCormick will oversee Ifemembi’s trial which is scheduled to be heard for two weeks.
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