Pair found guilty of laundering money for fraud ring

March 14, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Two Nigerian nationals have been convicted of money-laundering as part of an international credit card fraud ring that stretched from California to Maryland to Nigeria.

Abiodun Bashorun, whom prosecutors portrayed as a Chicago-based connection for the ring, was found guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore of three counts of money-laundering and one count of conspiracy to launder money. Co-defendant Helen Iyabode Olopade was found guilty of two counts of money-laundering and one count of conspiracy to launder money.

Bashorun and Olopade were indicted in Baltimore last year with 12 other Nigerian nationals. They were charged with stealing the identities of unsuspecting victims, applying for credit cards and bank accounts in their names, then going on spending sprees that reached into the millions of dollars.

The proceeds of the ring, along with the proceeds of heroin trafficking, were sent to ring members in Maryland and Washington, who wired them to accounts and corporations in Africa, South Korea, the Far East, and Eastern and Western Europe.

Eight defendants in the case have pleaded guilty, three are fugitives, and one is awaiting extradition from Britain.

This is the second trial for Bashorun in the money laundering case. In February 1997, a federal jury deadlocked 11 to 1 in favor of convicting him after a five-week trial.

Bashorun testified that he was a hard-working social worker who had been hoodwinked by a boyhood friend from Nigeria, Adeniyi Allison.

Considered by prosecutors to be the leader of the organization, Allison is being held in England pending extradition to the United States.

Olopade received money from Bashorun, deposited it in personal accounts and the account of a store owned by one of the co-conspirators, then ordered large wire transfers to banks abroad.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 29. The maximum penalty for each offense is 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Pub Date: 3/14/98

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