Breaking : Popular Nigerian Pastor Arrested In US

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Breaking News in Nigeria today

In Baltimore, Maryland, a Nigerian preacher was arrested for allegedly attempting to use his position to aid marriage and visa fraud in the United States.

This is according to a press statement issued by the concerned authorities.

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“A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Joshua Olatokunbo Shonubi, a.k.a. Olatokunbo Joshua Shonubi, age 50, of Bowie, Maryland, with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud and visa fraud, as well as presenting false documents to a federal agency, in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain permanent resident status for foreign nationals by arranging marriages with US citizens,” according to the statement.

The indictment was returned on October 20, 2021, and the defendant’s arrest resulted in the indictment being unsealed today.

Shonubi is scheduled to appear in US District Court in Baltimore today at 2:15 p.m. before US Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson.

United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron, Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services District Director Gregory L. Collett announced the indictment (USCIS).

According to the seven-count indictment, Shonubi, pastor of NewLife City Church, Inc. in Hyattsville, Maryland, conspired to fraudulently obtain immigration benefits for foreign nationals by arranging their marriage to US citizens who served as their sponsors for permanent residence in the US from at least January 2014 to January 2021.

Shonubi is accused of receiving thousands of dollars from foreign nationals in exchange for connecting them with US citizen sponsors and facilitating their marriages, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, Shonubi recruited and groomed US citizens, including economically disadvantaged citizens, with payments and promises of money in exchange for marrying foreign nationals, then sponsored the foreign nationals for permanent residence in the United States through USCIS, often using his role as pastor of NewLife.

See also: Court orders Covenant University to pay N10.3 million in damages and benefits to a lecturer who was wrongfully fired.

Shonubi is also accused of officiating or arranging for a civil marriage ceremony to be performed in Virginia in some of the fraudulent marriages. Shonubi is also accused of falsely stating his relationship to the parties, the nature of the marriage, his role in providing spiritual guidance or counselling, and his belief in the romantic nature of the marriage in at least 38 reference letters on NewLife letterhead in support of foreign nationals’ applications for permanent residence.

“Shonubi also allegedly created false rental leases on at least 34 occasions, listing Jaypro, a corporation he formed in 2015, as a landlord, to provide proof that the foreign national and US citizen were living together when they were actually living separately,” according to the complaint.

Shonubi and others allegedly submitted false documents to USCIS as part of the foreign nationals’ applications for permanent residence. According to the indictment, Shonubi and his co-conspirators submitted at least 60 application packets to USCIS, each documenting a marriage between a US citizen and a foreign national with the goal of the foreign national obtaining permanent residence.

Shonubi faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison if convicted of conspiring to commit visa and marriage fraud, as well as a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for each of the six counts of presenting false documents to a federal agency.

The average sentence for federal crimes is less than the maximum penalty. Any sentence will be determined by a federal district court judge after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

An indictment is not the same as a conviction. A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until and unless he or she is found guilty in a subsequent criminal proceeding.

US Attorney Erek L. Barron praised HSI and USCIS for their contributions to the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked the case’s prosecutor, Special Assistant US Attorney Jason X. Hamilton, and Assistant US Attorney Matthew J. Maddox.

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