A United States grand jury has charged Nigerian-born lawyer and Deeper Life Bible Church pastor, Ifeanyichukwu Eric Abakporo and his American co-conspirator, Latanya Pierce, with a variety of wire and bank fraud offences.
The Grand Jury’s superseding indictment, signed by United States Attorney Preet Bharara at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, requests that Abakporo and Pierce forfeit to the government a wide variety of properties related to the charged offences, as well as a sum of money representing the approximate amount of proceeds obtained as a result of the offences.
If any of the forfeitable property is found to be out of reach for any reason, the US government will seek forfeiture of any other property belonging to Abakporo and Pierce up to the value of the forfeitable property.
The superseding indictment, cited as Case 1:12-cr-00340-SAS filed on January 24 2013, charges that from about 2003 until about 2012, Abakporo and Pierce, who owned or controlled several real estate-related businesses, worked together with other co-conspirators, known and unknown, in a scheme to defraud financial institutions and mortgage lenders, property owners, property buyers and others of real property, mortgage loan proceeds, and monies related to real property transactions.
The indictment alleges that, as part of their fraudulent scheme, Abakporo and Pierce used straw purchasers and borrowers to buy properties using mortgage loans from financial institutions and mortgage lenders, and caused false and fraudulent documents and information to be submitted to those financial institutions and mortgage lenders.
The properties involved, according to the indictment, include the following:
1. 99 – 21 215th Street, Queens, New York
2. 50 Carnegie Avenue, Elmont, New York
3. 143 Quincy Street, Brooklyn, New York
4. 1308 Caton Avenue, Brooklyn, New York
5. 1070 Saint Nicholas Avenue, Manhattan, New York
6. 215 – 11 111th Road, Cambria Heights, New York, and
7. 101 – 24 197th Street, Hollis, New York 11423
The indictment extensively alleges how Abakporo and Pierce, along with others, conspired to violate the law, and details specific instances in which the defendants are said to have caused false and fraudulent documents and information to be submitted to mortgage institutions to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in each case.
With reference to bank fraud, the grand jury also charged both defendants, along with others known and unknown, with a scheme to defraud a financial institution and causing false information to be submitted to Washington Mutual Bank in order to obtain a loan in the amount of $1.8 million in connection with the property located at 1070 Saint Nicholas Avenue, New York, New York.
The latest indictment supplements an earlier indictment that charged Mr. Abakporo with defrauding a 78-year old American lady. Abakporo and Pierce who were initially charged with a “despicable” scheme in which they are said to have swindled the elderly lady who owned that property.
“Through lies and deception, these individuals abused the trust of an elderly woman in order to perpetrate a multimillion dollar fraud,” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said at that time. “Now that their despicable scheme has been exposed, they will face justice.”
It would also be recalled that in 2010, Abakporo sued SaharaReporters, alleging libel and emotional distress and demanding the sum of $30 million. SaharaReporters had reported a petition written by anonymous whistleblowers known as “The Patriots” about goings-on concerning contracts for renovations at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations in New York.
The petition alleged that a company called St. Cyprian Properties was Ambassador Ogwu’s “front for fraud” and had benefitted from the questionable renovation projects. Mr. Abakporo vehemently denied any relationship to St. Cyprian Properties (other than serving as its attorney). However, as the case proceeded, SaharaReporters lawyers led by renowned media lawyer, Robert Balin secured real estate documents showing that Abakporo had signed those documents as “President” of St. Cyprian Properties.
"The Patriots" insisted the renovation contracts were inflated, and that the Permanent Mission had paid several hundred thousand dollars to St. Cyprian Properties for the work.
Although the petition was sent by the “patriots” to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the charges in the petition were never addressed by the agency. Mrs. Ogwu remains at the UN mission representing Nigeria while her man Friday faces a litany of fraud charges in New York.
Late in May 2012, Abakporo, facing serious federal criminal charges of fraud, abruptly dropped his $30 million libel suit against SaharaReporters.
Although Abakporo’s lawyers haver sought to dismiss the new superseding indictment, in an effort to thwart his trial, that attempt was recently denied by the judge overseeing the criminal case, The judge has ordered Abakporo and Pierce to stand trial, with the trial scheduled to start on July 8, 2013.