An immigration services officer, who previously lived in Aliso Viejo and worked in Los Angeles, was arrested Wednesday in Maryland on federal charges that he used a false name to gain U.S. citizenship.
Modestus Nwagubwu Ifemembi, 48, a Nigerian national, was named in the criminal complaint under a false name of Karl Nwabugwu Odike Ifemembi, according to prosecutors.
Ifemembi, who was transferred to the Potomac Service Center in Arlington, Virginia, was arrested in Rockville, Maryland, where he relocated. He is charged with one count of unlawfully procuring U.S. citizenship and was expected to appear in court Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Greenbelt, Maryland, according to federal prosecutors in Santa Ana, where he is being prosecuted.
According to an affidavit from Department of Homeland Security special agent Carlos Feliciano, the defendant used a passport from England in another person’s name with Ifemembi’s photo to fly from France into O’Hare Airport in Chicago in March 2000. He was flagged by immigration officials.
The defendant falsely said his real name was Karlos Mourfy and that he did not apply for a visa to enter the United States “because he was a refugee in Nigeria” and was prevented from doing so, Feliciano alleged.
The defendant said he was born in Sierra Leone, “where he said his mother and brother had been killed,” Feliciano said. He said he went to the United States for asylum and to “further his education,” according to Feliciano.
Ifemembi spent two months in immigration jail, but was later granted asylum, Feliciano said.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in 2004 and then earned a law degree from the University of Oregon four years later.
The defendant was sworn in as a citizen in May 2011 and two years later got a job with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The defendant’s half-brother told investigators that Ifemembi was born in Enugo, Nigeria. An investigation also uncovered documents that showed the defendant also lied about his age, the affidavit alleged.