A Nigerian woman, identified as Tammy, has pleaded guilty to charges of drug trafficking and bank fraud in the US and may spend up to 10 years in jail.
In a statement by the Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office (Eastern District of Virginia) last Tuesday, Tammy pleaded guilty to the allegations of conspiring with others to import more than five kilograms of cocaine, as well as to her role in a separate bank fraud scheme, and to making false statements relating to fraudulent claims submitted to Medicaid for reimbursement.
Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said “Tammy is a ‘triple threat’ of criminality – drug trafficker, a fraudster, and a liar. Tammy, a Nigerian immigrant who has spent the last two decades with the privilege of living in the United States as a lawful permanent resident, clearly has zero respect for American laws pertaining to our borders, controlled substances, our financial system, or our health care system.”
With her guilty plea, Tammy faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for the cocaine importation charge when sentenced on February 28, 2020.
According to court documents, Tammy, who is a 40-years-old, recruited man from the greater Washington, D.C. area to act as drug couriers. She was also accused of opening bank accounts in the couriers’ names, assisting them in obtaining passports and visas, and booking their travel arrangements.
Tammy’s suspected couriers travelled primarily to São Paulo, Brazil, where they picked up kilogram quantities of cocaine hidden in the lining of soft-sided briefcases or attaché cases. Altogether, law enforcement seized nearly seven kilograms of cocaine at three different US airports from three separate couriers allegedly recruited by Tammy.
The statement also revealed that in addition to the cocaine importation scheme, Tammy also submitted falsified and fraudulent claims to the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance, a health care benefit program funded by Medicaid.
It was reported that Tammy worked as a personal care aide for various home health agencies in the Washington D.C. area, and in order to receive payment for services rendered, Tammy was required to submit time sheets signed by her clients documenting the services rendered. Instead of submitting time sheets for time actually worked providing health care services, Tammy recruited Medicaid recipients to act as her “patients” and to sign her falsified timesheets in return for a small amount of money as a kickback. On at least two occasions, Tammy billed DHCF for home health services she claimed to have provided while she was out of the country.
Apart from the cocaine importation and the home health services scheme, Tammy alleged also used her African goods business in Maryland to carry out a bank fraud.