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Man Sentenced for Role in Scheme to Defraud City of Lexington, Kentucky

The scheme involved a fraudulent transfer of nearly $4 million in City funds.

LEXINGTON, KY— The U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky is reporting that Nana Kawabena Amuah, 31, a native of Ghana, was sentenced to 86 months in federal prison on Wednesday, by U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell, for conspiring to commit money laundering. Amuah was also ordered to pay $4,743,443.60 in restitution.

According to Amuah’s plea agreement, beginning in 2021, Amuah was directing a co-defendant, Shimea McDonald, to open bank accounts for receiving money from a variety of fraud victims. Amuah helped facilitate McDonald getting fake identity documentation, based on fake identity information she obtained from real people. McDonald also set up shell companies, which she then used to set up bank accounts with fake identities.  Once money entered into these accounts, Amuah notified McDonald of the payments and directed her to wire or otherwise bring him the stolen funds, after McDonald had retained a portion for herself.  Working with others, Amuah would then wire or otherwise bring money to the other co-conspirators, who facilitated further transfers or initiated the underlying scheme to defraud the victims, after retaining his portion of the proceeds.

In one instance, in August 2022, the conspirators impersonated a nonprofit organization, having business with the City of Lexington over email, and convinced a City official to wire funds owed to the non-profit organization to a bank account at Truist Bank.  The City wired a total of $3,905,837.05 to the Gretson Company LLC bank account at Truist Bank.  Prior to the August 2022 wire transfer, McDonald, using the identity of K.N., had requested eight counter checks from Truist Bank, which would be funded from wires fraudulently received from the City.  Then, when the money was placed in the fraudulent account at Truist Bank, McDonald, using the identity of K.N., attempted to deposit a portion of these funds into another account in the name of Gretson Company LLC, at another financial institution.

Ultimately, Truist Bank and the City of Lexington were able to recover all the funds that were fraudulently transmitted. According to Court documents, investigators found approximately 70 other victims of this conspiracy, 60 of which did suffer losses amounting to more than $4.6 million. McDonald has been convicted for her role in the offense and is scheduled to be sentenced on December 14, 2023. A third defendant, Jean Mejia-Garcia, who attempted to deposit done on the City’s money, had been charged and is awaiting trial.

Under federal law, Amuah must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence.  Upon his release from prison, he will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years.

Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Michael E. Stansbury, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Louisville Field Office; and Lawrence Weathers, Chief of the Lexington Police, jointly announced the sentence.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI and Lexington Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Dieruf prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

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