15 December 2009

Feds Land Guilty Plea in Scam vs W.Va. Auditor

A native of Kenyan married to a U.S. citizen living in North Carolina has admitted she helped dupe West Virginia's auditor out of nearly $1 million, The Associated Press reports.

The guilty plea to a felony conspiracy count links Angella Muthoni Chegge-Kraszeski to a Kenya-based, Internet-aided scam that also hit officials in at least three other states.

The overall scheme will like prove more extensive than what's been alleged in the criminal charges against Chegge-Kraszeski and five other Kenyans living in the U.S. State Auditor Glen Gainer has reported his office was tricked into transferring nearly $2 million to dummy corporations. The balance of that has not yet been mentioned in court filings.

But the court papers do cast Chegge-Kraszeski as a pawn, deployed by others to conduct such grunt work as registering phony corporations and then setting up shell bank accounts for them.

"I did not know specifically what I was asked to do, but I knew that it was not legal," Chegge-Kraszeski told the judge Monday.

Some interesting tidbits from the AP article:

"The slight, soft-spoken 33-year-old said her role in the plot began late last year, while she was visiting her teenage son in Kenya. A man she said she knew only as 'Jimmy' had her photo taken for what turned out to be a false South African passport that gave her the alias 'Christina Ann Clay.'"

Also, Chegge-Kraszeski "declined to explain to U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. what she had expected to gain from her role in the scheme. Her lawyer, U.S. Public Defender Mary Lou Newberger, said she would reveal that before the sentencing, 'but it was not money.'"

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