From Nigeria, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer Charged with Illegally Obtaining U.S. Citizenship under Fake Identity

The crime of illegally obtaining citizenship or naturalization carries a maximum sentence of ten years in federal jail, and U.S. citizenship is immediately revoked upon conviction.
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Nigerian and American Passports

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officer was arrested in Maryland this morning on a federal complaint alleging that he received U.S. citizenship under a false name.

The defendant is charged under the alias "Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi," but his real name is Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi, and he is from Nigeria, according to the criminal complaint. Ifemembi, 48, has worked for USCIS for seven years and previously lived in Aliso Viejo before moving to Rockville, Maryland, last year. In the lawsuit, Ifemembi is charged with one count of illegally obtaining U.S. citizenship.

According to the affidavit in support of the lawsuit, which was unsealed this morning, Ifemembi made false claims on different government forms in order to secure U.S. citizenship and jobs with USCIS.

According to the affidavit, Ifemembi first entered the United States in 2000, when he travelled from France to Chicago with a British passport that had been given to someone else but had been altered to include Ifemembi's picture. Although immigration officials in Chicago apprehended Ifemembi – who confessed to using a British passport fraudulently, according to the affidavit – he was eventually given asylum after falsely declaring his real name was “Karlos Mourfy” and that he was a Sierra Leonean native.

Ifemembi earned a bachelor's degree in 2004 from the University of California, Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law after being granted asylum. Then, in late 2010, “Karlos Mourfy” applied for US citizenship and requested that his name be changed to Ifemembi, which he received in May 2011. According to the affidavit, Ifemembi was recruited by USCIS two years later, in 2013.

Federal investigators searched Ifemembi's Orange County home in 2019 and traveled to Africa, including his hometown of Akuma, Nigeria, to collect information about his true identity, including baptism, education, and financial records.

Ifemembi is expected to appear in United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland this afternoon for his initial hearing.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The crime of illegally obtaining citizenship or naturalization carries a maximum sentence of ten years in federal jail, and U.S. citizenship is immediately revoked upon conviction.

The Office of Inspector General of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Investigations of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Diplomatic Security Service of the United States Department of State are all investigating Ifemembi (DSS).

Assistant United States Attorney Charles E. Pell of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.