Home Crime U.S. court postpones Abidemi Rufai’s fraud trial, as prosecution files fresh evidence

U.S. court postpones Abidemi Rufai’s fraud trial, as prosecution files fresh evidence

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U.S. court postpones Abidemi Rufai’s fraud trial, as prosecution files fresh evidence

U.S. court postpones the trial of a Nigerian politician, Abidemi Rufai, as prosecution files fresh evidence. Rufai, a suspended aide to Ogun State governor, faces charges of $350,000 employment benefit fraud. His lawyer also indicated an ongoing negotiation with the U.S. Government.

The U.S government arraigned him on 15 counts of fraud and identity theft at the District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma, on June 25, 2021. He is accused of using 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 in 2020. His lawyers, in January, sought the second rescheduling of his trial from February 1, 2022, to May, in quest of more time to review available evidence with his client, and for further negotiation with the U.S. government.

The judge, Benjamin Settle of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma, granted the defendant’s request on January 11, according to a court document, Mr. Settle postponed the trial until May 31, 2022.

It was the second postponement of the case within months. The judge had, earlier on August 3, 2021, issued an order shifting the trial originally slated for August 31, 2021,to February 1, 2022. Both the prosecution and the defence jointly applied for the earlier postponement, anchoring their agreed request on “the voluminous and complex” nature of the evidence submitted by the government. 

The judge had acceded to the request and postponed the trial till February 1, 2022.The new exhibit, negotiation but the five-month postponement granted in August last year appeared insufficient for the defence. In his motion filed on January 3, 2022, Mr. Rufai’s lawyer, Lance M. Hester, asked for further postponement of the trial from February 1 to May 2022.

Mr. Hester said he needed more time to review over 100,000 pages of evidence filed by the U.S. government with his client.“The discovery, in this case, is voluminous and complex. The government had produced over 100,000 pages of discovery material,” Mr. Hester stated.

He also indicated that the government had filed more materials broadening the case beyond the original employment benefit fraud allegations.Mr Hester said the fresh allegations include “fraudulent claims for tax refunds and disaster relief.”“Further, in addition to the transactions described in the indictment, which relate to alleged fraud involving unemployment benefits, the government has also produced material relating to allegedly fraudulent claims for tax refunds and disaster relief,” he added. headtopics.com 

He called for the postponement of the trial to gain more time, not only “to review the discovery with the defendant” and to prepare pretrial motions, but to also “further negotiate a possible resolution of this matter.”He said failure to grant the postponement “would unreasonably deny the defence the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence.”

Rufai in brief

Before making his Instagram account private, Mr. Rufai had pictures of himself and other Ogun government officials posted online.

The suspect shared photos of his candidacy for the House of Representatives in 2019. His slogans read: “Ready and Committed to Serve with Trust and Ethics.”

He owns a sports betting organisation named Ecobet, and he is popularly described as “a young business Turk,” “a philanthropist of note” and a “gregarious and enterprising dude” among his clicks.

Author: Seyi Awoleye

Los-Angeles, CA, USA

seyiawoleye@yahoo.com