An alleged conspirator in the multi-million dollar bank fraud case in the United States involving Allen Onyeama, founder of Air Peace Limited, has been revealed in some court documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
Ebony Mayfield was, until now, known by her initials, E.M. The U.S. Department of Justice referenced her by the initials in the charges filed against Mr Onyema and a co-defendant in 2019.
After months of poring through records, PREMIUM TIMES has now obtained court documents revealing her full details and the roles she allegedly played in the $20million bank fraud and money laundering said to have been spearheaded by Mr Onyema.
The details are contained in the separate charge of bank fraud filed against her by the United States government.
The U. S. government had, in 2019, charged Mr Onyema alongside Air Peace Limited’s Head of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, in connection with the alleged $20million fraud
They both face 36 charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and credit application fraud but have so far failed to show up in court. No lawyer has also so far entered appearance for them.
How fraud was allegedly perpetrated
According to U.S. prosecutors, in 2010, Mr Onyema, whose Air Peace is a major Nigerian airline operator, opened several bank accounts in the U.S. and moved over $44.9 million into the accounts domiciled at Atlanta.
Prosecutors say, beginning in approximately May 2016, Mr Onyema, together with Mr Eghagha and other alleged conspirators allegedly used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Mr Onyema.
The letters of credit were purportedly to secure the funds for the purchase of five separate Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace.
The letters were supported by documents such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, a business registered in Georgia, which has now been dissolved.
Prosecutors, however, said the accompanying documents, such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, were all fake.
They added that Springfield Aviation Company LLC, which is owned by Mr Onyema never owned the aircraft, and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist.
PREMIUM TIMES reported exclusively on Tuesday that Springfield Aviation Company LLC has now been dissolved by the authorities of the state of Georgia in the U.S.
The company, incorporated and based in Georgia State, is said to have been deficient in filing its annual registration, after the U.S. Department of Justice filed charges against its principal officials, including Mr Onyema in 2019.
Restaurant waitress recruited as ‘aviation company’ manager
Ms Mayfield, also known as Daniell Nicole Williams, was recruited by Mr Onyeama to act as manager of Springfield Aviation Company LLC and to enter into contracts on its behalf, prosecutors say.
Court documents reveal her to be “a food service professional” commonly known as waiter or waitress who is still dependent on her parents for supports.
She has indicated her intention to continue her work as a waitress while her trial proceeds.
According to the prosecutors, Ms Mayfield has no connection to the aviation business outside her role with Springfield Aviation.
They also say she has no education, training, or licensing in the review and valuation of aircraft/ including aircraft components.
Her roles in the $20 million scheme, U.S. government says, include submitting false documents to Wells Fargo, including fabricated purchase agreements, bills of sale and valuation documents, with the intent to defraud.
She allegedly submitted the false documents in support of the letters of credit and to cause the disbursement of funds from either Wells Fargo Bank or JPMorgan Chase Bank NA into Springfield Aviation.
Mr Eghagha, the Air Peace official charged alongside Mr Onyema, allegedly sent false documents to Ms Mayfield and directed her to sign them on behalf of Springfield Aviation. He was said to have also instructed her to present false documents to the respective banks in support of each letter of credit.
Ms Mayfield is facing a count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud at the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division.
Request to go home
On December 28, 2021, Ms Mayfield applied for the modification of her bail conditions, requesting to move from Georgia to Houston, Texas, where her family lives pending when her trial begins.
The application filed on her behalf by her lawyer, Manubir Arora, asked for her pre-trial supervision to be transferred to Houston in the Southern District of Texas.
“Ms. Mayfield would like to move back home and be near her family and would like to move there on 2/15/22),” the application read in part.
It added, “Defendant Mayfield intends to continue as a food service professional (aka waiter/waitress) when she arrives in Houston with the support of her parents.
“Defendant Mayfield wants to move to 2220 Pinegate Drive, Apt #432, Houston, TX 77008. This location is within a few miles of her parents.”
Catherine Salinas, a magistrate-judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, granted the defendant’s request on January 19, 2022.
“Defendant Mayfield will be permitted to travel outside the Northern District of Georgia until she moves to the Southern District of Texas.
“Defendant Mayfield will be allowed to transfer pre-trial supervision to the Southern District of Texas and reside at the address provided. All other bond conditions remain in place,” the order read in part.
Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.