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Kenyan man sentenced to 11 years in US for fraud scheme

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A Kenyan businessman, Paul Maucha, who immigrated to the United States 36 years ago, has been sentenced to 135 months in prison and fined $2.1 million (Sh271.1 million) after being found guilty of fraud-related charges by a US court.The sentence, handed down by US District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols on June 11, 2024, includes 11 years and three months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. Additionally, Maucha is required to pay a fine of $200,000 (Sh25.8 million), a special assessment of $400 (Sh51,600), and restitution and forfeiture totaling $1,901,252 (Sh245.3 million).Maucha, along with his co-suspect Melisa Shapiro, was indicted by a grand jury on April 27, 2021, on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and engaging in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property. The charges stemmed from their operation of an advance fee and investment scheme through their company, American Eagle Service Group Inc (AESG).

According to court documents and investigations by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Maucha and Shapiro misled victims about AESG’s capabilities to secure loans and investments, collecting advance fees under false pretenses. Despite promising refunds if loans were not funded, they allegedly diverted these fees for personal use, leaving victims without recourse.

Maucha’s legal troubles intensified when he was arrested on May 12, 2021, and subsequent hearings revealed discrepancies regarding his nationality and compliance with pretrial conditions. The court determined that Maucha, who entered the US on a Temporary Worker Visa in 1988, maintained his residency without adjusting his immigration status or leaving the country since.

In response to the sentencing, Keri Farley, FBI Atlanta’s Special Agent in Charge, emphasized the agency’s commitment to prosecuting investment fraud cases vigorously, citing the complex nature of such crimes. Special Agent Farley affirmed the FBI’s dedication to pursuing restitution for victims affected by fraudulent schemes.

Maucha’s case underscores ongoing concerns about international fraud and immigration compliance, highlighting the US justice system’s efforts to address transnational financial crimes.

 

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