A federal magistrate in New York ruled on Wednesday that Abidemi Rufai, a Senior Special Assistant to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, charged for $350,000 employment fraud in Washington cannot be released before his trial.
The 42-year-old was arrested on Friday evening on his way back to Nigeria at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York based on criminal complaint.
He was subsequently charged with defrauding Washington State Employment Security Department of over $350,000.
Rufai made his initial appearance last Saturday in New York and he appeared for a detention hearing on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, he asked a federal court to release him to the custody of his brother, Alaba Rufai, who is an attorney in New York, according to federal prosecutors and Abidemi Rufai’s private attorney, Michael Barrows of Garden City, New York.
But Rufai’s brother told the court Wednesday morning that he could not afford the $300,000 “surety” bond that he would have been required to post to ensure that Abidemi Rufai appeared for his trial, said federal prosecutors and Barrows.
As a result, Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes ordered Abidemi Rufai to be detained and taken to the Western District of Washington, according to Seattle Times.
Also, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office in Seattle said, “We’re pleased that the defendant is being detained and will be transported to the Western District of Washington for future court proceedings.”
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the US Department of Justice, District of Washington said Rufai used the pseudonym Sandy Tang and the stolen identities of more than 100 Washington residents to file fraudulent claims with Employment Security Department for unemployment benefits last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The criminal complaint also said Rufai mailed some of the proceeds of his fraud to the Jamaica and New York addresses of his relatives with more than $288,000 deposits between March and August 2020.
Though Rufai has denied the charges, he risks 30 years in prison if found guilty of wire fraud.
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