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United States v. 10503 Campus Way South

United States District Court, D. Oregon

December 27, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
10503 Campus Way South, Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, State and District of Maryland, Real Property with Buildings, Appurtenances, and Improvements, in rem, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MALCOLM F. MARSH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, the United States of America, brings this civil forfeiture proceeding pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 981 and 984; and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1345, 1355, 1356, and 1395, seeking forfeiture of the Defendant real property on the basis that it constitutes, or is derived from, proceeds traceable to violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (Mail Fraud), 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (Wire Fraud), 18 U.S.C. § 1344 (Bank Fraud), and 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7) (Identity Theft). Pl.'s Compl. (ECF No. 1) at 2. Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 7). For the reasons set forth below, this Court GRANTS Plaintiffs Motion.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are undisputed. On or about April 23, 2015, Emmanuel Kazeem purchased the Defendant real property for $175, 000 under the name E & A Investors, a Maryland corporation that he formed in 2014 as the incorporator, the resident agent, and director. Pl.'s Compl., Ex. A (Decl. of IRS Special Agent Colleen Anderson) at 1, 8. Two weeks later, on May 7, 2015, Kazeem was indicted in this Court for Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Aggravated Identity Theft. United States v. Kazeem, 1:15-cr-00172-AA.

         The indictment charged Kazeem and his co-defendants with "obtaining stolen personal identifying information of more than 125, 000 individuals and, beginning at least as early as the 2012 tax year. . ., using that information to file fraudulent federal and state tax returns." Id., Indictment (ECF No. 3) at 1. The indictment alleged that Kazeem and his co-defendants filed "over 980 false federal tax returns seeking over $6.6 million dollars in fraudulent refunds," that resulted in "[t]he actual loss [of more than] $2 million dollars from tax returns accepted for payment by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)." Id. at 1-2.

         On May 7, 2015, the trial court issued warrants for the arrest of Kazeem and his co-defendants. Id., Arrest Warrants (ECF Nos. 9-13). On May 13, 2015, law enforcement officials arrested Kazeem's co-defendants but were unable to locate Kazeem. See id, Executed Arrest Warrants (ECF No. 28, 29, 45, 46). On May 13, 2015, federal officials executed a search warrant at Kazeem's Maryland residence, but he was not there. Id., Order Denying Mot. for Release from Custody (ECF No. 82) at 3. The agents spoke to Kazeem's roommate and left copies of the warrant. Id.

         One week later, on May 20, 2015, Kazeem sold the Defendant real property to Claimant Oluwaseun Ojuade, his sister, for $10.00. Pl.'s Compl, Ex. A at 8. He also added Claimant to the deed on his personal residence for $10.00. Id. The following day, Kazeem flew from Maryland to Oregon and self-surrendered. Id., see United States v. Kazeem, l:15-cr-00172-AA, Executed Arrest Warrant (ECF No. 25).

         Claimant, a citizen of Nigeria, has entered the United States on only one occasion, from April 16, 2015 to May 5, 2015. Pl.'s Compl., Ex. A at 9. She departed the United States fifteen days before Kazeem deeded the property to her. Id.

         On August 4, 2017, a jury convicted Kazeem of four counts of wire fraud, five counts of mail fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and nine counts of aggravated identity theft related to the tax fraud scheme. United States v. Kazeem, 1:15-cr-00172-AA, Jury Verdict (ECF No. 217). Kazeem's appeal of his conviction is pending before the Ninth Circuit. See id, Notice of Appeal (ECF No. 295).

         At the time Kazeem purchased the Defendant real property, his sole source of income was the proceeds of the tax fraud scheme for which he was convicted. In her Declaration, Colleen Anderson, Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations, sets forth her uncontested investigative findings:

14. Kazeem's personal 2012, 2013, and 2014 tax returns show Kazeem reported U.S. domestic income from non-verifiable sources, but reported no foreign income. Kazeem reported on his 2012 tax return that he received approximately $22, 455 in net income from Paktims Global, a small schedule C car business. No. income documents were issued pertaining to the receipt or disbursement of funds regarding this business. Kazeem reported on his 2013 and 2014 tax returns that he earned $85, 632 in 2013 and $98, 601 in 2014 from FBC Graphics Inc. and attached Forms W-2 from this entity to his tax returns. Further investigation into the Forms W-2 showed the entity had not been active for several years and it had not issued any Forms W-2 or other income documents to Kazeem or anyone else for the 2013 and 2014 tax years.
15. The investigation found Kazeem provided completely different income sources and verification documents to U.S. Immigration Services for tax years 2013 and 2014 than those provided to the IRS. Kazeem provided U.S. Immigration Services with a 2013 Form W-2 for $85, 632.32 from Brightway Limo & Travel Services and an employment letter dated July 10, 2014 for $65, 432.63 from AGF Global. IRS records show that these businesses had not issued any W-2 or other income-related documents during those tax periods to Kazeem or anyone else.
16. Corporation Commission and IRS Records show Kazeem registered E&A Investors Corporation in June 2014 with the State of Maryland and requested an employment identification number from the IRS for the corporation. IRS records show that no income documents were received or issued by E&A Investors Corporation and no tax returns were ever filed with the IRS under the corporation's name or employment identification number.
17. Although no legitimate domestic or foreign income sources were found for Kazeem for the 2012-2015 tax years, Western Union money transfer control numbers found in Kazeem's email accounts tied him to over 700 wire transfers for over $695, 000 in suspected fraudulent tax proceeds during this same time period. In addition, four GTBank statements found on Kazeem's iMac computer at his Maryland residence showed $80, 000 in multiple cash deposits were made to ...

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