Tuesday, June 8, 2010

CCSO Nabs Fugitive U.S. Mail Fraud Suspect

When the phone rang at 3 a.m. on May 28, it was a call U.S. Postal Inspector Matthew Boyden of Houston had been waiting for for nearly four years.

The caller said Bimbola Simeon Amosu had just been arrested and was in custody more than 1,000 miles away in Collier County.

Boyden’s longtime nemesis had finally been caught, thanks to deputies with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

“It was the most exciting phone call I’ve ever had,” Boyden said.

Boyden, a federal agent who investigates high-dollar frauds with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Houston, had been looking for Amosu since 2006, when he and the U.S. State Department of Diplomatic Security Service issued a criminal complaint charging Amosu with conspiracy and mail fraud with losses over $7 million in the Houston area.
Boyden and his team had finally caught up to Amosu in late 2007, tracking him to a condo on the 18th floor of a luxury high-rise in Miami. Boyden was getting ready to enter the condo to arrest Amosu when Amosu escaped by jumping from the balcony onto several other balconies and running away.

Boyden hoped that one day Amosu would be caught by a quick-thinking law enforcement agency.

Enter the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

Amosu’s nearly four years on the run ended around 7:15 p.m. on May 27 after CCSO deputies initiated a traffic stop on a black Cadillac Escalade on Interstate 75 in North Naples. Deputies had received information that the Escalade had been reported stolen out of Broward County.

The driver insisted that his name was “Albert Macauley” and produced a valid Georgia driver’s license bearing that name and his photo.

But deputies were skeptical.

Deputies had also found six other California driver’s licenses, each with a different name and photo of the man, inside his wallet. They also found six credit cards matching the names on the California licenses. Attempts to identify the man at the scene using a fingerprint identification tool were unsuccessful.

Deputies arrested the man and charged him with grand theft. He was booked in the Collier County jail under the name “John Doe,” while deputies continued to try to determine his identity.

“I just didn’t believe him,” Detective Heather Nichols recalled. “He was just too insistent. Call it intuition.”

Intuition paid off.

A few hours later, CCSO deputies specially trained under section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act discovered the truth: The man who insisted he was Albert Macauley of Georgia was really 48-year-old Nigerian citizen Bimbola Simeon Amosu. Deputies also discovered he was wanted on the warrant out of Houston as well as a warrant for a probation violation out of Fulton County, Ga.

Within hours of receiving the early morning phone call, Boyden, the postal inspector, was on a plane to Collier County.

“I still didn’t believe it,” he said. “I flew down there Friday (May 28) and interviewed him in jail. Your deputies did a phenomenal job.”

Further investigation by CCSO deputies revealed the California driver’s licenses that were inside Amosu’s wallet were counterfeit and that two of the credit cards had been stolen. And a search of the Escalade turned up six brand-new Apple laptops in boxes, along with receipts showing three had been purchased in Collier and three had been purchased in Lee County on May 27. At least two had been purchased with stolen credit cards, according to arrest reports.

Amosu was additionally charged with scheming to defraud under $20,000, grand theft over $10,000, identity theft and possession of a fraudulent ID card. The local charges were deferred to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Amosu is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service in Fort Myers, where he is awaiting extradition to Houston. If convicted on the federal charges, he could face up to 30 years in prison.