Abidemi Rufai’s brother refused to stand surety for him in the $350,000 fraud case against him in the United States (U.S.), PREMIUM TIMES can report.
He was on May 19 granted a $300,000 bail by a New York magistrate’s court, but the Acting U.S. Attorney, Tessa Gorman, on May 24, filed an “emergency motion” at the U.S. Western District Court of Washington, Tacoma, “to stay the order of release.”
It was earlier reported that Mr Rufai remained in detention, despite the magistrate’s order for his release, because his brother proposed as his surety could not post the $300,000 bond.
But the U.S. government’s court filing obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, on Friday, has now shown that the proposed surety did not sign the bond not because of his inability to pay.
The surety, whose name was not given in the document, was not just willing to play that role for his brother, the court document showed.
Even when the magistrate, Ramon Reyes, explained to Mr Rufai’s brother that he would not be required to make payment for the bond only if Mr Rufai jumped bail, he still declined.
“Rufai’s brother told the Court he was unwilling to sign the bond. Judge Reyes explained to Rufai’s brother that he would not be required to put up any security for the bond, and would be required to make payment on the bond only if Rufai failed to appear at court proceedings.
“Rufai’s brother stated that he was unwilling to sign the bond even on those conditions. Accordingly, Judge Reyes entered a detention and transfer order,” the U.S. government said in the document.
Questionable character as surety?
Following the refusal by Mr Rufai’s brother to stand as a surety, the defendant’s lawyer, Michael Barrows, on May 21, presented Nekpen Soyemi, a registered nurse, whose family comes from Nigeria.
She told the court that she would guarantee the $300,000 bond and allow Mr Rufai to stay at her and her husband’s home.
The Acting U.S. Attorney, Ms Gorma, later exposed Ms Soyemi, saying she is a “suspect in an investigation into an email impersonation scheme.”
Her husband, Idris Soyemi, is also said to have been convicted for wire fraud in 2014.
The U.S. government told the court that it is dangerous to release Mr Rufai on bail, claiming the suspect presents an extreme risk of flight and “if he does escape to Nigeria, extradition will be extraordinarily difficult or impossible because of his ties to the Nigerian government.”
Government’s request for order to stay release granted
On Tuesday, the United States District Judge, Benjamin Settle, granted the government’s motion to stay release of Mr Rufai.
“The release order is stayed, and the defendant shall remain in custody pending this Court’s decision on the government’s motion for review,” a court document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES read.
He allegedly used the identities of more than 100 Washington residents to steal more than $350,000 in unemployment benefits from the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
At the end of a detention hearing held on May 19, 2021, the Magistrate of the District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Ramon Reyes, agreed with the government that Mr Rufai posed “a serious flight risk”, but found that the risk could be addressed by conditions of release, including a $300,000 bond.
The magistrate went on to issue an order releasing Mr Rufai based on the bond in which Mr Rufai’s brother, who is licensed as an attorney in New York, was proposed as surety.
But Mr Rufai was not released eventually because his brother did not sign the bail bond. The suspect was therefore remanded pending when he would provide an alternate surety.
The U.S. government on May 24 filed an emergency motion of stay release order before the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Tacoma, on May 24.
The court on Tuesday granted the U.S government’s request staying the earlier release order issued by the magistrate’s court.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...