A federal grand jury has indicted two Maryland men on charges they stole the identities of natural disaster victims and fraudulently registered for millions of dollars in life-saving relief funds.
Federal prosecutor Robert K. Hur stated Friday that the grand jury returned an indictment on John Irogho, 38, of Upper Marlboro for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and charged Irogho and Odinaka Ekeocha, 33, of Laurel, with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The indictment accuses the two of being part of a ring that stole the information of natural disaster victims and withdrew federal emergency funds earmarked for purchasing life-saving materials.
The men are accused of scamming more than $8 million from the government that was entitled to victims between 2016 and 2018 as wildfires and hurricanes devastated millions.
If convicted, Irogho faces 50 years in prison and Ekeocha faces 20.
In a related case, Tare Stanley Okirika, 30, of Laurel pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy July 19, admitting that as part of the conspiracy to fraudulently obtain government benefits, he worked with other co-conspirators to cash out Green Dot and other prepaid debit cards, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
Okirika admitted that he used the stolen federal funds from the scheme to pay his rent and for other purposes. U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel has scheduled sentencing for Okirika on Oct. 22.