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US couple charged with the gruesome murder of Kenyan student

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Four months after the gruesome murder of a 21-year-old Kenyan student in a parking lot of a property o the University of Oregon, a couple has been charged with the offence.

Alex Oyombe Gradin, was shot in the early morning hours of May 4, 2019 and pronounced dead at the scene.

Alex, who was born in Kenya and adopted into the Gradin family as a baby, was a student as Lane Community College and had just left Taylor’s Bar and Grill when he was shot.

The two suspects, Regis Derey Kindred, 30, and Kailee Von Foster, 29, a married couple of Portland, were arrested last week and on Tuesday were arraigned in court on murder charges.

Police say the motive of the shooting was intentional and gang-related but emphasized that Gradin had no affiliation with or connection to any gang activity.

Gradin did not know the suspects or have contact with the suspects before the shooting and he was not specifically targeted, police said.

“He did absolutely nothing wrong,” EPD Detective Jed McGuire said at a Friday press conference announcing the arrests.

Kenyan-born Alex Oyombe Gradin who was shot dead in the US on May 4, 2019. PHOTOS | COURTESY
Kenyan-born Alex Oyombe Gradin who was shot dead in the US on May 4, 2019. PHOTOS | COURTESY

MOTIVE OF SHOOTING 

He declined to go into further detail about the motivation behind the shooting.

According to Daily Emerald, EPD had released few updates in the case during the four months of investigation.

“It’s frustrating,” EPD Police Chief Chris Skinner said on the inability to share details with the public. He said people have a tendency to fill in their own narrative on the case.

Despite the lack of information, Skinner said multiple investigators spent hundreds of hours on the case.

McGuire said EPD received assistance from multiple agencies, including the FBI, Lane County Sheriff’s Department and the Tigard Police.

Both Regis and Kailee have numerous prior criminal convictions.

 

By nairobinews

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Revealed: Cohen’s widow won’t get a coin of his money

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The late Dutch businessman Tob Cohen did not leave any property or cash to his widow Sarah Wairimu according to the Will opened yesterday, Saturday Standard can reveal. Cohen, bequeathed his property estimated to be worth Sh700 million, which includes the Kitusuru home, cash and shareholding of his companies to his sister, brother, and children of his sister.

In a dramatic shift to the unraveling drama, Wairimu will not get a single coin from the slain husband. The Will was made in April at the height of their divorce and is said to have revoked any other Will done before that.

Shareholder

Highly placed sources familiar with the Will, which was read yesterday said Cohen’s sister Gabrielle Straten has been bequeathed 50 per cent of the Kitisuru home.The remaining 50 per cent has been shared out between Gabrille’s two children.Each child will receive 25 per cent of the value of the home estimated to be Sh400 million. All the shares held by Cohen in his companies which include a tour firm Cohen Tours will be taken over by Gabrielle.

She will also take over Sh100 million cash in local and international banks. The brother, Bernard has been gifted Sh50 million in a Dutch bank.The content of the Will unfurled by lawyer Kirundi Chege proved a bitter pill for Wairimu who immediately declared to challenge it in court. Her lawyer Philip Murgor promised a “battle royale” to invalidate its contents in so far as it dispossessed her.

“If our rights to the matrimonial home are in any way affected, we will fight all the way to the Supreme Court,” Murgor said.A Dutch newspaper had last week claimed that Gabrielle and Bernard were the major beneficiaries of Cohen’s estate. The paper claimed Cohen had bequeathed his siblings the Sh400 million property in the leafy suburb of Kitisuru.

The opening of Cohen’s Will yesterday also came with other surprises. Among them is the acclaimed billionaire status of the man. Besides the asset portfolio in the Will amounting to around Sh500 million, some creditors were swirling around Kirundu’s law firm.Among them are two politicians, both friends of the late Cohen. They claim he owed them at least Sh35 million.Yesterday, Murgor said Wairimu was entitled to the matrimonial home and that any attempts to hand over the property to any other person would be challenged in court.

Murgor said his client was also entitled to a share of the proceeds of the company’s monies as she was also a shareholder.“A Will is not cast on stone. This is a battle royale that is shaping up,” Murgor said.At the Bruce House offices of lawyer Kirundi, Gabrielle and the brother Bernard declined to share with the media the contents of the Will. Wairimu’s side did not attend the ceremony.Not tampered withThe lawyer also despite being hard-pressed by journalists, declined to reveal details such as when the Will was drawn. He insisted that the Will had not been tampered with as claimed by Murgor.“This Will has not leaked to any person since it was sealed, I want to confirm that any allegation that the Will has been leaked is not true,” he said.Journalists sought to know from either Kirundi or Cohen’s family why they had shared information of the Will with the Dutch newspaper.

They both declined to comment.“Whoever has been writing has not quoted this law firm as having released any information,” said Kirundi.Murgor, on the other hand, maintained that the reading of the Will was flawed and explained that this was the reason why he gave yesterday’s opening of the seal a wide berth.Lawyer Cliff Ombeta who is representing the Cohen family was present.

Ombeta, in his address to journalists at the offices of Kirundi and Co-advocates, said they had invited Murgor to witness as the Will was read to the family.

He said the decision by Murgor not to attend the event was a sign that the Will would be challenged in court.“If he (Murgor) has an issue with the Will, let him challenge it at a later date,” said Ombeta.Among those who witnessed the unsealing of the Will were Cohen’s sister Gabrielle and brother Bernard who are said to be the major beneficiaries.Former Gatundu North MP Patrick Muiruri was also present.

The Cohen murder probe has received international attention since the day he went missing until last Friday when DCI chief George Kinoti announced the recovery of the body in an underground water tank in his Kitisuru home.Gabrielle will not attend the burial of his brother as she left the country last evening. Bernard has stayed behind to witness the final rites of his elder brother.

By Standard.co.ke

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Crash victim dies pleading with medics to treat her

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An unidentified woman in Vihiga County died after spending minutes pleading with hospital staff to attend to her, bringing to light the country’s poor emergency response system. In a chilling two-minute video, the woman’s last moments are documented as she, in a frail voice, pleads with hospital staff nearby to treat her injuries from a motorcycle accident.

The woman, whose video clip has gone viral on social media, was involved in a boda boda accident and rushed to a private facility by Good Samaritans.

“Help me, please, I will die,” the woman desperately cried for help in the video, writhing in pain as she lay on the hospital’s waiting bay. At one point, the voice of person who took her to hospital can be heard rising above the woman’s cries, asking for help, none of which was forthcoming.

“Can’t you perform first-aid on her, doctor,” the voice asks. A man alleged to be a hospital attendant is heard questioning who the woman is before he can admit her. “She was in a motorbike accident, we just picked her and brought her here,” the male voice responds. The heavily-bleeding injured woman is heard interrupting the two, asking for a referral to Mbale Hospital, insisting she would die if no action was taken.

“This discussion will not help… Take me to Mbale please. Please take me to Mbale… Take me to Mbale General Hospital, my mother will pay,” she pleaded.She was reportedly taken to Vihiga Referral Hospital, but doctors could not do much. Moments later, she succumbed to injuries.

Yesterday, Vihiga County Director of Communication Victor Wetende confirmed the incident, terming it unfortunate. “Indeed it is true the patient was brought to our referral hospital. She was attended to but it was too late,” Wetende said.Our efforts to trace the boda boda operator and the victim’s family were futile. The clip sparked fury online and rekindled bitter memories of lives that could have been saved if the country’s emergency response in public and private hospitals were functional.

By Standard.co.ke

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FBI – How Kenyans stole over Sh300 million from US firms

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On August 1 last year, employees at the finance department of the little-known Fairfax County, which forms part of the suburban ring of Washington, DC in the United States, received an email they believed to be from the headquarters of Dell Computers in Texas.

Fairfax had a running multimillion-dollar computer supply deal for its schools in the county, and the email indicated it had been written by the Accounts Payables department of Dell. It asked Fairfax to reroute its pending payments, which were almost due, to another account in Ohio.

ELECTRONIC TRANSFERS

Fairfax County obliged, and from August 8 to September 10 sent a total of $1,345,423.20 (Sh134 million) to the new account using electronic transfers. In total, the county sent 28 payments ranging from as low as $328 (Sh32,800) to as high as $241,223 (Sh2.4 million).

Unknown to the county, the money was being transferred almost immediately it hit the Ohio account to several other accounts worldwide before ending up thousands of kilometres away in the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. By September 10, when Fairfax County discovered it was being defrauded, some $526,517.04 (Sh52 million) had already been withdrawn in Nairobi.

“The fraudulent email account was very similar to a Dell employee’s true email address and contained revised banking information for Dell,” evidence filed in US courts would later say.

This discovery triggered a chain of investigations which were eventually taken over by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which was deployed to Nairobi. The global hunt for the suspects, code-named Operation reWired, was then widened to include a search for criminals in similar schemes. It eventually led to the arrest of 281 suspects from nine countries and was only made public last week by the FBI.

Following that revelation, the Nation is today giving you details of one of the most brazen Kenyan cyber theft syndicates in recent history.

The FBI sweep resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million (Sh384 million) and the disruption and recovery of approximately $118 million (Sh12 billion) in fraudulent wire transfers.

“The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Through Operation Re Wired, we are sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes that ‘I will keep coming after you, no matter where you are’. The effects of this crime are far-reaching, and the dollar amounts involved are staggering.”

The FBI has since 2013 gathered reports of more than $10 billion (Sh1 trillion) in losses from US victims alone. The worldwide tally is more than $26 billion (Sh2.6 trillion).

BEC fraud is a new sophisticated type of cyber-enabled crime facilitated by the Internet where fraudsters use hacked email accounts to convince businesses or individuals to make payments that are either bogus or similar to actual payments owed to legitimate companies.

As part of the scam, fraudsters learn about key personnel in companies who are responsible for payments as well as the protocols necessary to perform wire transfers in various companies and then target the businesses that regularly perform wire transfer payments.

Interestingly, Kenya and Nigeria were the only African countries on the list of nations where the FBI made arrests and recovered property bought by scammers after a year of investigations. Other countries in the list include Italy, Japan, Malasyia, United Kingdom, France and Turkey.

The big puzzle for the FBI was how Kenya and Nigeria, two African countries with meagre computing skills and resources, had hacked their way into a list of major global cybercrime hotspots.

But with its good Internet speeds, easy availability of cheap computers and a robust banking system driven by technology, it is not difficult to figure out why Kenya has bred such sophisticated criminals.

So entrenched is the vice among Kenyan hackers that the US government now has a special unit whose role is to monitor cybercrime emanating from IP addresses in Kenya.

The American Embassy in Nairobi declined to give us the list of Kenyans who were arrested and extradited to the US to face charges, or the assets repossessed during Operation Re Wired.

Documents filed by the US Department of Justice however indicate that three Kenyans, Robert Mutua Muli, Amil Hassan Raage, and Jeffrey Sila Ndungi, were arrested during the time of the operation.

Between them they had stolen $3,154,118.83 (Sh315.4 million). About half of this money has not been recovered, according to court papers in the US. All the three have been found guilty of their crimes after making plea bargain deals with the courts. Mr Muli is set to be sentenced next month, on October 4, Mr Raage will know his fate on October 11, while Mr Ndungi has already begun his 20-year sentence.

However, among the three it is Mr Muli, a 59-year-old Kenyan immigrant from Ohio, Texas, who had stolen the most; $2,128,133.83 (Sh212 million), followed by Mr Raage, 48, who was picked by FBI detectives from Nairobi on May 9 this year with $949,393.14 (Sh94 million) in his bank accounts.

Mr Ndungi, 33, who was in April last year sentenced to 20 years in prison, had only managed to steal $76,592.86 (Sh7.6 million) before FBI detectives lured him to fly to a trap in Dallas, Texas from Nairobi. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport as the plane he had boarded sat on the tarmac waiting for clearance to fly to London, where he would have connected to Nairobi.

Before the US theft, it appears that the 2010 University of Nairobi engineering graduate had not only honed his skills by hacking and selling DStv bouquets in Kenya and Nigeria from his house in South B, Nairobi, but also made tonnes of money while at it. So lucrative was this venture that by the age of 26, just two years after graduating, Mr Ndungi had bought two Cessna planes with the tail numbers 5Y-CCN and 5Y-CCO.

In 2013 he leased one of the planes to Nairobi Flight Training Limited. Apart from that he also owned a top-of-the-range Escalade and a Range Rover Sport, which the US repossessed after he was arrested. He also had a house at Executive Suites Estate in South B.

During his trial, it emerged that Mr Ndungi had filed fake tax return requests amounting to $116,000 (Sh11 million) using the names of a person who had died — Mrs Cynthia Short — by pretending she was still alive and based in Nairobi.

“These returns used social security numbers belonging to deceased individuals and attached fictitious forms reporting substantial wages. However, many of the addresses and bank accounts receiving fraudulent tax refunds are located in the US,” say court papers.

As Mr Ndungi was being sent to prison to start his term, detectives had on their sights two other Kenyans, Mr Muli and Mr Raage, who had apparently tricked their victims to think they were receiving emails from Dell Computers.

Apart from defrauding the Fairfax County government by tricking them that they were sending payments for computers to Dell, Mr Muli also conned Vermont County government of $13,684.63 (Sh1.3 million) and the Detroit County government of $769,226 (Sh79 million). In these deals, he tricked his victims by pretending to be other companies other than Dell Computers, but the mode of operation was similar to what he had used on Fairfax County.

In papers filed before court, Mr Muli is said to have opened a business checking account at Wells Fargo Bank in the name of Rogram Home Improvement Ltd on February 22, 2018. In the application to open the account, he said he was the sole owner of Rogram.

Between May and July 2018, The City of Detroit entered into a sales agreement with another firm named Aecom Great Lakes Limited to meet the sales needs of the city.

“On May 14, 2018 a co-conspirator of Mr Muli sent an email to the City of Detroit from an email falsely claiming to be an Aecom Great Lakes employee, directing the city of Detroit’s office of Contracting and Procurement to change the Aecom Great Lakes bank of records to Wells Fargo and directing payments to a second account which was at all times controlled by Mr Muli. The email account name matched the name of a former Aecom employee,” say court papers.

On May 25, 2018, the City of Detroit made a $69,464 deposit to the new account, and on June 1 a second payment of $699,802 was made to the account.

On May 25, which was the same day that $69,464 hit the fake account that the City of Detroit thought belonged to Aecom, $49,990 was transferred to Rogram Home Improvement. Then, 11 days later, on June 6, $74,527 and $39,990 were transferred to Mr Muli’s personal account, which was then wired to Kenya. Most of this cash was recovered, but the City of Detroit lost $130,154 in the scam.

As he was busy defrauding the City of Detroit, Mr Muli was also engaged in a similar fraud targeting the State of Vermont, this time by faking he was yet again a Dell employee. Like Mr Ndungi before him, Mr Muli was arrested in Texas as he attempted to flee to Kenya.

Mr Raage, however, managed to escape to Nairobi on September 22 last year after his bank accounts were frozen, but was arrested eight months later, on May 8, by the FBI. He was extradited to the US on May 23 to face justice.

Before being smoked out, Mr Raage had defrauded the University of California, San Diego of $749,158 (Sh75 million) and Pennsylvania University of $123,643 (Sh12 million) by tricking them to make payments they believed were going to Dell Computers.

So perplexed was the US Justice Department on the arrest of Mr Raage that Attorney Robert Brewer would later say that “modern criminals like Raage have ditched the ski mask and getaway vehicle and opted for a computer as their weapon of choice.”

-nation.co.ke

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