(The Center Square) – Uchenna Christian Nlemchi, a 31-year-old Nigerian man, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count each of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering this week, according to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico.
He will remain in custody pending sentencing which has has not been scheduled.
A federal grand jury indicted Nlemchi in May of 2017. In 2015, the man opened a bank account in Houston under the name of a fake business, Jay Auto & Machine Parts. He wanted to siphon money from political corruption in Nigeria to another person in Nigeria. From September 2015 to February 2016, he received $868,295 into the account.
He withdrew about $167,000 in cash in person, $32,000 from ATMs, and transferred $75,000 to his personal bank account. He transferred the remaining portion of the money to different businesses and people, as requested by his co-conspirators.
Nlemchi admitted in his plea agreement that he learned the money he received came from romance scams run by his co-conspirators and that he facilitated these scams by accepting the money.
Law enforcement arrested Nlemchi on the indictment in June of 2017 and released on conditions pending trial. Four months later, he violated the conditions of his release, and law enforcement issued an arrest warrant.
Nlemchi fled the country and was thought to be in Nigeria.
The FBI looked for Nlemchi for five years before finding him in Hungary. He was then extradited to the United States and arrested on June 6, 2023.
The Albuquerque Division of the FBI investigated this case with help from the Albuquerque Police Department; Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Peña is prosecuting it.
You can view the plea agreement here.