A case of an Endless Compounding of Incredulous Judicial Travesty Upon Judicial Travesty

Olufolajimi Abegunde earned a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Mays Business School, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; graduating with the class of 2016. Subsequently after, in an attempt to ameliorate the devastating economic crisis in Nigeria (Abegunde’s country of origin) that led to a shortage of the world's reserve currency for International trade and International commerce--the United States Dollar(USD)--Abegunde founded a Money Service Business (MSB) and a Financial Technology start-up with a focus on brokering International money remittances and currency exchanges.

Abegunde’s business--FJ Williams Inc. DBA TranzAlert--was duly licenced and registered with all the extant Industry regulatory bodies that include the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), U.S Department of the Treasury; the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance; and the Central Bank of Nigeria, Inter alia. In other words Abegunde’s business went through, and successfully navigated the exact same rigorous regulatory vetting process as MSB’s such as Western Union and MoneyGram.

In August 2016, a long time friend of Abegunde, Mr Ayodeji Ojo, visited the US from Nigeria with a pregnant wife and infant daughter, and was hosted by Abegunde at his home in Atlanta, Georgia. At the time, Ojo possessed a wholly legitimate check that he needed to cash to enable him take care of expenses related to his family’s trip, as well as the health expenses associated with his pregnant wife. On encountering failure to cash the check due to its size, it was recommended by a banker that Ojo open a new bank account, deposit the check into the bank account, and wait for the check to clear.

Ojo chose Wells Fargo bank. Since Ojo was staying at Abegunde’s home, and since Ojo did not have a U.S telephone number--a mailing address and phone number are requirements to open the bank account--Ojo sought, and Abegunde granted Ojo permission to use Abegunde’s address and phone number to open the account.

Around October 11, 2016; two months after Ojo had departed the U.S, Abegunde received a phone call from Brian Ancona, a supposed Investigator at Wells Fargo bank, who stated that a certain Ramos Alonso was in the bank and was seeking the reversal of $9000 that Alonso had inadvertently deposited into Ojo’s bank account. Abegunde told Ancona to hold while Abegunde attempted a three-way call connecting Ojo--the account holder--and Ancona.
The three-way call was unsuccessful. Ojo subsequently called Abegunde back, and Abegunde conveyed the issue, and advised Ojo to immediately authorize the reversal of the $9000. Abegunde also told Ojo that he did not want to be in the middle of any issues. When Ancona called back, Abegunde communicated that Ojo had authorized the reversal and Ancona expressed gratitude.

Around March 15, 2017; FBI agents visited Abegunde’s home and asked for Ojo. In wide ranging “convivial” interactions that digressed to discussions about fraud; Abegunde vociferously condemned all kinds of fraud. Abegunde also stated that a MSB is not under any legal obligation to know or ascertain the sources of the funds the MSB transacts in, and that the MSB would not be liable for criminally obtained funds by its customers, if the MSB is unaware that such funds are criminally obtained. Abegunde offered the FBI agents full cooperation by providing them with Ojo’s contact information and ensuring that Ojo contacted them less than one hour after the agents departed Abegunde’s home.

Around February 7, 2018; while Abegunde was at the airport in Atlanta, Georgia to alter a scheduled flight; to Abegunde’s shock and utter devastation, Abegunde was arrested and eventually presented with an indictment that charged Abegunde with Wire Fraud Conspiracy and Aggravated Identity Theft in the Western District of Tennessee--a location that Abegunde had absolutely no known connection with. It is worthy of note that the Indictment did not contain any allegations that Abegunde engaged in any form of criminal activity. The only instance Abegunde came up, had to do with an accurate assertion that Abegunde granted Ojo permission to utilize Abegunde’s address for the purpose of Ojo opening a bank account since Ojo did not reside in the U.S and thus did not have a U.S address.

While in detention, Abegunde would find out that the reason for his Indictment was related to his innocuous discussions with the FBI, as well as Abegunde’s October 2016 phone call with Ancona--the Wells Fargo investigator--where Abegunde facilitated the reversal of the inadvertent $9000.

Since Abegunde was absolutely certain that he had done no wrong, Abegunde indicated that he would proceed to trial. Hence a trial date was set for October 8, 2018. however , on August 29, 2018; two months after a trial date was set, (and AUSA Ireland, one of the prosecutors, indicated that the government would not return a superseding Indictment) the government returned a superseding indictment that substituted the Aggravated Identity Theft charge for a Marriage Fraud Conspiracy charge--regarding a marriage that was entered in the Eastern District of North Carolina for which there is absolutely no connection to the Western District of Tennessee. The government also added a Witness Tampering charge on the superseding Indictment.

Abegunde proceeded to trial and was found guilty on all charges. Abegunde appealed the convictions, challenging the sufficiency of the government's evidence, venue, the propriety of the joinder of the unrelated offences, and whether wholly innocuous actions by Abegunde rise to the level of criminality. Abegunde also challenged his 78 months sentence. The U.S Court Of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed Abegunde’s conviction and sentence.

The U.S Courts of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s Ignominious Travesties

Abegunde’s case, from its inception till date is inundated with several inconceivable and highly unusual travesties in general. These travesties range from the worst and most egregious forms of government overreach, abuse of power, and the most draconian forms of prosecutorial misconduct; to woefully incompetent and preposterous actions at the District and Appeal Courrt levels.

More specifically, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion affirming Abegunde’s conviction and sentence contains alarming judicial travesties that should ordinarily set off deafening alarm bells. These travesties are basically a result of a perfunctory handling of Abegunde’s case by the Sixth Circuit, as reflected in a total disregard for the actual evidence on the record; and a corresponding elevation of false and unsupported allegations by the government to Oracular--divine status. The Sixth Circuit generally displayed an unusual degree of cognitive dissonance--by forcing pieces of “supposed” evidence that don't fit, into a predetermined set of assumptions.

The Sixth Circuit also ignored its long standing precedents in Abegunde’s case. This departure from precedent is reflected with regards the issue of venue on all counts; the sufficiency of the government's evidence, whether benign actions in the course of Abegunde’s business dealings actually amount to criminal conduct, inter alia.

Furthermore, the Sixth Circuit completely omitted the materially consequential fact that Abegunde ran a totally legitimate, albeit unconventional business that was licensed and registered by the extant industry regulatory Institutions.
Also, the Court did not take into account the fact that Abegunde’s business model was based on the consensual use of third-party bank accounts for the purpose of currency exchanges and International money remittances.
Also, the Court did not take into account the fact that Abegunde’s business model was based on the consensual use of third-party bank accounts for the purpose of currency exchanges and International money remittances.

Additionally, the Sixth Circuit reached the dubious and unusually absurd conclusion that because Abegunde utilized WhatsApp-- a popular encrypted Instant Messaging tool with two billion users worldwide-- Abegunde engaged in concealment and money laundering. This amounts to a blatant false equivalence that has no basis in logic, and is synonymous to the conclusion that two billion WhatsApp users worldwide use WhatsApp, not for the ease of communication it enables, but to conceal their communications. This conclusion is very troubling, and is reminiscent of the dangers George Orwell sought to convey in 1984.
However, the most concerning Sixth Circuit travesty is with regards the Sixth Circuit opinion in affirming the propriety of the joinder of the Marriage Fraud Conspiracy count with the Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracy counts on the Superseding Indictment.

In its opinion regarding the issue of joinder of offenses, the Sixth Circuit’s cognitive dissonance reached a climax with a crowing travesty. For the first time since the inception of Abegunde’s case, the Sixth Circuit fabricated and introduced a phantom and previously non-existent charge of Bank Fraud that Abegunde was not charged with at the District court level.

Additionally, it is important to point out the key fact that it was in the Sixth Circuit’s opinion that the Bank Fraud charge appeared-- all of a sudden-- for the very first time. It is also important to point out the fact that among the counts listed on Abegunde’s Superseding Indictment, there is absolutely no mention--in any way, manner, shape or form-- of a Bank Fraud charge. Neither is Bank Fraud mentioned in any section of the superseding Indictment.

Furthermore, an examination of Abegunde’s Superseding Indictment would also reveal the facts that with regards the Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracy counts, the government did not present any allegations against Abegunde that rise to the level of crimes. Of crucially consequential significance is the fact that the allegations on the face of the Indictment (superseding Indictment) do not reflect any logical connection between the Marriage Fraud Conspiracy count on the one hand; and the Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering Conspiracy Counts on the other.

There was also no allegation on the face of the Superseding Indictment that joint bank accounts associated with Abegunde’s marriage received fraudulently obtained funds in general, or funds obtained from the fraud that occurred in the Western District of Tennessee in particular. As a matter of fact, the Superseding Indictment clearly states that the transactions that occurred on Abegunde’s Joint bank accounts actually happened between May 13, 2016 and May 24, 2016. Meanwhile, the same Superseding Indictment states that the fraud that took place in the Western District of Tennessee occurred on or about July 25, 2016; and the other fraud--that occurred on a Washington company--happened on or about October 3, 2016. This provides undisputed proof--based on the content of the Superseding Indictment that there is no possible logical relationship between the joint offenses.

Regarding the issue of venue, the U.S Constitution and the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure require that a crime be prosecuted and tried in the district where the crime was committed. See U.S Const. Article III S2; U.S Const. Amend. VI; Fed. R. Crim. P. 18.

The alleged Marriage Fraud Conspiracy as well as the Wire Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracies allegedly involving Abegunde, did not occur in the western District of Tennessee. The lack of Venue for these charged offenses on the Superseding Indictment further solidifies the impropriety of the joinder of offenses.

Therefore, it was the wholly manufactured Bank Fraud Count--that only exists on the Sixth Circuit’s opinion--that served as a basis for the Sixth Circuit’s ruling that the joinder of offenses was proper; as there were no other factual or legal justifications for the joinder.


All the travesties in Abegunde’s case are not only reprehensible, they actually call into question the integrity and public reputation of the entire U.S Judicial system in general.

Additionally, the effects of the amplified travesty--the Sixth Circuit’s fabrication of an offence that Abegunde was not charged with-- is of vital significance because if the joinder was found to be improper, Abegunde’s convictions would have been reversed, and Abegunde would have been granted a new trial as the law requires.

Of the highest significance is the critically vital fact that the U.S Constitution guarantees Abegunde the individual right to not be deprived of his liberty without due process of the law. The amplified travesty, as well as all the other travesties in Abegunde’s case definitely deny Abegunde his individual constitutional right to due process of law.

Finally, it must be pointed out that in a pro se petition for Panel Rehearing or Rehearing En Banc addressed to the Sixth Circuit, Abegunde attempted to utilize Sixth Circuit legal precedents, as well as the actual facts of the case-- that are consistent with the record--to elucidate the legal and factual reasons why Abegunde should not have been convicted and sentenced to 78 months in prison. Abegunde also comprehensively illuminated compelling reasons why the Sixth Circuit ought to reverse Abegunde’s conviction. Unfortunately however, Abegunde’s petition was denied.

  Sign this petition to demand justice for Abegunde !!!