The United States government has asked the federal court in Virginia to impose a harsh sentence on Obinwanne Okeke to serve as a deterrent to other individuals with criminal tendencies.

In their testimony, obtained exclusively by our source, U.S. authorities disagreed with the defendant’s plea for a lighter sentence.

“The public must have confidence that the activities of the defendant and his co-conspirators will be treated with the utmost seriousness. The public must look to the defendant’s actions as a participant in the online fraud schemes so prevalent and know that such conduct cannot be tolerated.

“Individuals who are inclined to consider committing crimes like the defendant’s must be made to pause and think about the consequences of doing so,” said Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Raj Parekh.

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The 33-year-old Okeke, who is also known as Invictus Obi, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to a wire fraud charge in June 2019.

Okeke’s plea

Mr. Okeke’s attorney, John Iweanoge, had objected to several paragraphs in the Pre-Sentence Report (PSR), a document prepared by a probation officer to help the judge decide sentencing.

The PSR contains background information about the offender and can convince the judge to reduce or impose the maximum prison sentence, according to the United States Sentencing Guidelines.

“Mr. Okeke objects to paragraphs 13, 21, and 76 dealing with restitution because Unatrac recovered approximately $2.5 million ($302,000.00 and $2,2000,000.00), which should reduce the actual amount of damages to less than the intended fraud amount of $10,979.28,” Mr. Iweanoge stated in the objection.

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Defense counsel also objected to the prosecution’s designation of Mr. Okeke as the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit fraud.

“In paragraph 12, in an attempt to justify the conclusion that Mr. Okeke was the ringleader and organizer, the PSR based this on the references in the emails to him as Chief and Boss.

“The reference to Mr. Okeke as Chief or Boss does not support a claim that he was the leader and organizer of the conspiracy. Notwithstanding, the word Chief does not mean leader but is a traditional title conferred by a village or community in Nigeria. Similarly, the word boss was used as slang in the emails,” he argued.

Mr. Iweanoge also cited the Urban Dictionary definition of Boss as “A person who knows what he wants, knows how to get what he wants, and gets it when he wants it.”

He asked the judge not to impose the 97 to 121 months or 151-188 months set for the crime.

Mr. Iweanoge asked the court to instead consider the “history and characteristics of the accused.”

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According to him, Mr. Okeke has a strong bond with his family and plays an indispensable role in the lives of his 19-month-old daughter, his elderly ailing mother, friends and beneficiaries of his philanthropies.

“Accordingly, any sentence within the guideline range would be far greater than necessary to achieve the goals of §3553, and time below the guideline sentence is warranted.”

Mr. Iweanoge urged the court to grant Mr. Okeke a more deferential sentence because “he is already punished by the collateral consequences enumerated above.”

He also objected to the prosecution’s request that “the approximately $2.5 million seized should be credited against restitution and/or forfeiture.”

U.S. Government’s Position.

Prosecutors disagreed that the collateral effects of imprisonment on the defendant should mitigate his sentence.

“The guidelines do not take into account many other collateral effects of sentencing – the hardship on the family, the stigma of a felony conviction, and so forth, because these are not effects relevant to the calculus of sentencing that the guidelines provide,” the government said.

Regarding the plea that he is a deportable alien, U.S. government attorneys emphasized that Mr. Okeke chose to engage in conduct that affected victims in the United States and also traveled to the United States, where he was arrested.

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They insisted that his status as a non-citizen should not be a reason to sentence him to less than 10 years in prison.

“The United States contends that a consideration of the section 3553(a) factors warrants a sentence under the guidelines because the guidelines essentially reflect the nature and circumstances of the offense and the defendant’s background. Should the court sustain the parties’ objections, the appropriate sentence should be no less than 120 months.”

The attorneys urged the court to consider the need to protect society, the need for just punishment, deterrence and Mr. Okeke’s criminal record.

“The defendant has no criminal history and the guidelines certainly take that into account. But this factor cuts both ways because the defendant committed this intentional crime as a mature, educated adult.

It is clear that the defendant could have used his technical skills to do productive work instead of using them to defraud other individuals and businesses.”