April 20, 2006
Contact: SA Heath Anderson
Phone Number: (202) 305-8500
Five Indicted in Scheme to Defraud Investment Banking Firm
APR 20 --Shawn A. Johnson, Special Agent in Charge of DEA’s Washington Division, announced today that a federal grand jury has indicted Anthony Okoko, age 30, of Bowie, Maryland; Tonya Tyson, age 37, of Suitland, Maryland; Leslie Reynolds, age 60, of Bowie; Ugochukwu Onwudiegwu, age 34, of Baltimore; and Hasina Horton, age 31, of Columbia, Maryland, for crimes committed in connection with a scheme to defraud the investment banking firm, Ferris, Baker Watts, Incorporated. The indictment was returned on April 17, 2006, and was unsealed today.
The indictment charges the defendants with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft and charges Okoko, Onwudiegwu and Horton with money laundering. The indictment alleges that Anthony Okoko and Tonya Tyson, who was employed by Ferris, Baker, Watts (FBW) as a sales associate, discussed forwarding to FBW by fax a document bearing the forged signature of a FBW customer, with directions to forward money from that customer’s account to a bank account to which Okoko had access. The indictment alleges that on November 17, 2005 Anthony Okoko caused Leslie Reynolds to prepare an order, bearing the forged signature of a FBW customer without the customer’s knowledge or consent, directing the transfer of $90,000 from the customer’s FBW account to an account in the name of Ugochukwu Onwudiegwu. Leslie Reynolds faxed the order from a fax machine in Maryland to Tonya Tyson at FBW in Washington, D.C. and later that day, Tyson caused FBW to wire transfer $90,000 from the FBW customer’s account to the bank account maintained by Onwudiegwu. The indictment alleges that Onwudiegwu then transferred the funds to other accounts, as well as withdrew funds for use in Okoko’s business, with the assistance of Hasina Horton.
The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for aggravated identity theft is two years in prison, consecutive to the sentence for wire fraud, and a fine of $250,000 and the maximum penalty for money laundering is ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Okono, Tyson, Reynolds and Horton were arrested today and had their initial appearances this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jillyn K. Schulze. Onwudiegwu has not been arrested and is being sought.
A second indictment, which was returned on April 5, 2006 and unsealed today, chargesAnthony Okoko with conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 100 grams or more of heroin, and several counts of distribution of heroin. Okoko faces a minimum of ten years and a maximum of life in prison and a $4,000,000 fine for the conspiracy charge and a minimum of 5 years and maximum of 40 years in prison and a $2,000,000 fine for distribution of heroin. His initial appearance was this afternoon.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. The investigation was an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force case by the Drug Enforcement Administration Washington Division, U.S. Secret Service, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara Skalla is prosecuting both cases.