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The fraud allegedly spearheaded by Mr Onyema was allegedly perpetrated under the guise of obtaining credit to buy aircraft for Air Peace, a frontline Nigerian airline, in the U.S.

A United States court has set 28 October for the sentencing of Ebony Mayfield, a co-conspirator in an alleged $20 million fraud involving the founder of Air Peace, Allen Onyema.

Ms Mayfield, accused of helping Mr Onyema to sign fake documents to facilitate a fraudulent $20 million loan, had earlier pleaded guilty to the charge on 29 June.

The trial judge, Eleanor Ross, of the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, in Atlanta, has now fixed 28 October for her sentencing, a court notice, according to Premium Times.

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The fraud allegedly spearheaded by Mr Onyema was allegedly perpetrated under the guise of obtaining credit to buy aircraft for Air Peace, a frontline Nigerian airline, in the U.S.

Ms Mayfield was accused of helping Mr Onyema to facilitate the $20 million bank fraud between May 2016 and February 2018 when she worked as the manager for Springfield Aviation Company LLC, owned by the Air Peace founder.

U.S. prosecutors accused her of signing and submitting false documents used by Mr Onyema to perpetrate the bank fraud in the U.S.

Mr Onyema and Air Peace Limited’s Head of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, also face 36 charges at the U.S. court in connection with the alleged fraudulent scheme.

But they have yet to show up or send a lawyer to represent them in court.

Trial

Ms Mayfield, who was arrested on 7 June 2019, for her alleged roles in the alleged scheme, had previously pleaded not guilty to all eight charges filed against her in December 2019.

Her trial was, in March this year, rescheduled to start on August 8.

But weeks before the trial date, she changed her plea from not guilty to guilty when she appeared before the trial judge on 29 June to plead guilty.

Ms Mayfield pleaded guilty to one of the eight counts filed against her by the U.S. government.

A copy of the plea agreement she and her lawyer signed with U.S. prosecutors shows she specifically pleaded guilty to Count 5, which is a conspiracy to commit credit application fraud.

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5-year jail term and other penalties

She risks up to five years of jail term based on the plea agreement.

Five years imprisonment is the maximum jail term provided for in Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, under which she was charged with the offence in Count 5.

Aside from the risk of a maximum five years jail term she faces, the plea agreement also recommends she be fined $250,000, or twice the gain or twice the loss whichever is greatest. The fine is due and payable immediately.

She will also make full restitution due and payable immediately to all victims of the offence(s) and relevant conduct.

The plea agreement also recommends the forfeiture of any and all proceeds from the commission of the offence and any and all property used or intended to be used to facilitate the offence.

She will be subjected to a mandatory special assessment of $100, due and payable immediately.

She also, by pleading guilty, gave up the right to plead not guilty, the right to be tried by a jury, and the right to appeal against her conviction.

If she is not a U.S. citizen, she stands the risk of being expelled from the country after completing her jail term.

Alleged fraud

Between November 2016 and October 2017, prosecutors said, Mr Onyema applied for export letters of credit to causing the transfer of funds from a Nigerian bank account for Air Peace to Springfield Aviation’s bank account, “purportedly to fund the purchase of aircraft by Air Peace from Springfield Aviation”.

Both the Air Peace purportedly seeking to buy the aircraft and the Springfield Aviation, the purported seller, belong to Mr Onyema.

Springfield Aviation, according to court documents, was established by Mr Onyema in the U.S. State of Georgia in April 2016 purportedly to specialise in “the wholesaling, trading/ and sale of commercial aircraft and parts”.

The US government says Ms Mayfield was recruited as a manager of Springfield Aviation with the role of entering into aviation-related contracts on behalf of the firm, despite her lack of education, training, or licensing in the review and valuation of aircraft, including aircraft components.

The charge against the defendants says the aircraft that was referenced in each of the export letters of credit provided to obtain the $ 20 million credit from a Nigerian bank, was never owned or sold by Springfield Aviation.

Source: PREMIUM TIMES

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