Member of fraud ring gets 18-month prison sentence Nigerian cooperated with prosecutors

February 07, 1997|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,SUN STAFF

The first member of an international Nigerian fraud ring to be sentenced in the case was rewarded this week for his cooperation with federal agents and prosecutors, which helped them piece together the complicated organization.

Ehi Joseph Macaulay,31, who was based in Burbank, Calif., could have received as much as two years and three months in federal prison without the possibility of parole for conspiring to commit credit card fraud.

Instead, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake in Baltimore on Wednesday to go easy on the Nigerian national and sentence him to 18 months in prison with the chance that he could serve some of that time under home detention.

"I apologize for my actions," Macaulay told the judge.

"It was a serious offense," Blake replied, agreeing to impose the sentence requested by the prosecutors. "You went a long way to make up for that."

Macaulay was one of 13 Nigerian nationals indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore last year. Prosecutors say ring members stole the identities of dozens of victims around the country and in Canada, applied for credit cards and bank accounts in their names, then went on sprees in which they spent millions of dollars.

The proceeds of the fraud, along with those from heroin trafficking, were converted to money orders, mailed to Maryland and Washington, then wired to bank accounts in Africa, the Far East, South Korea, and Eastern and Western Europe.

Seven people have pleaded guilty to their roles in the ring, and one defendant is on trial in Baltimore on money-laundering charges. The remaining defendants are awaiting extradition hearings or trial dates, or have fled the United States and are fugitives.

Pub Date: 2/07/97

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