GRAND RAPIDS MICHIGAN—Nehemiah Muzamhindo, a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan and citizen of Zimbabwe, was sentenced to a total of six years (72 months) in prison on federal charges of money laundering and filing a false tax return. In addition to ordering the prison time, the Hon. Janet Neff, U.S. District Court Judge, also ordered Muzamhindo to pay over $629,000 in restitution and over $79,000 in back taxes.
While the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) was investigating Muzamhindo for his role in a scheme to obtain fraudulent U.S. passports, agents discovered evidence that Muzamhindo had received large wire transfers from bank accounts held by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (“WKKF”) in the Republic of South Africa. WKKF has its headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan and is one of the world’s largest children’s charities. Further investigation revealed that Muzamhindo was part of a scheme to submit bogus invoices for payment to WKKF. WKKF paid members of the scheme a total of approximately $800,000 between 2006 and 2008 before learning that it was being swindled. As part of his sentencing, Muzamhindo was ordered to pay restitution to the WKKF for the amount directly attributable to his role in the scheme. Because Muzamhindo did not report to the IRS any of the money he received from WKKF during those years, the IRS also investigated Muzamhindo, leading to his conviction for filing a false tax return and the order to pay the amount he owed in unpaid taxes as part of his sentence.
U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles commented that “This sentence of prison time and restitution holds Muzamhindo accountable for the full measure of his deceit to both the charity that he swindled and the government. That should be a lesson for others; crime does not pay in this district.”
IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Carolyn Weber added: “Muzamhindo and his accomplices stole money that was meant for the world’s underprivileged children. IRS, DSS and our Federal law enforcement partners will continue to fervently seek justice for the victims of this kind of inexcusable fraud.” Scott Collins, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the Diplomatic Security Service, noted “Those who fraudulently acquire U.S. travel documents often do so in order to commit other crimes. Aware of this trend, we were able to uncover the connections to South Africa and the underlying scheme to defraud a charity. DSS takes very seriously our charge to protect the integrity of the U.S. passport and visa programs.”
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