By SaharaReporters, New York
Following an investigation by the FBI and the NY State Attorney General's Office, the federal prosecutor in Manhattan announced the indictment of Mr. Abakporo for a "brazen" and "despicable" fraud scheme – namely the theft of a multi-million dollar property from an elderly African-American woman through deceit and lies.
In its press release, the federal prosecutor's office said that IFEANYICHUKWU ERIC ABAKPORO, a Deeper Life pastor and attorney, and his cohort, LATANYA PIERCE, were under arrest for swindling a 78 year old woman out of her apartment building and stiffing a bank from whom they fraudulently obtained a $1.8 million mortgage loan. Abakporo was arrested Monday in Queens, NY. Pierce surrendered voluntarily and was placed under arrest.
“Through lies and deception, these individuals abused the trust of an elderly woman in order to perpetrate a multimillion dollar fraud. Now that their despicable scheme has been exposed, they will face justice,” said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Abakporo first came across the Sahara Reporters radar screen in 2010 in another controversy involving contracts for renovations at the Nigerian Mission and its living quarters. According to a petition authored by anonymous whistleblowers calling themselves "The Patriots," the renovation contracts, linked to Joy Ogwu, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, were inflated. Although the Nigerian Mission paid several hundred thousand dollars to a company called St. Cyprian Properties for services in connection with these renovations, Abakporo has vehemently denied that he owns or controls St. Cyprian. Sahara Reporters reported on the Nigerian Mission controversy following articles in the New York Daily News about Abakporo's alleged fraud of the elderly woman.
The SaharaReporters story prompted the now-indicted lawyer to turn his fury on the citizen reporting website with a lawsuit raising libel, emotional distress and other charges for which he demanded $30 million. A U.S. District Court dismissed most of these unsubstantiated claims in an April 2010 decision.
The story behind the current criminal charges against Abakporo began in March 2006 when Abakporo and his associate Pierce cultivated a relationship with the elderly victim who owned a Harlem apartment building. According to the indictment, they offered to help her collect rents but actually pocketed them.
The indictment further charges that the two alleged con artists then persuaded the woman to sell her property for $3.1 million, giving her multiple fake and fraudulent checks which they later took back, in exchange for a “private mortgage” in the property--which they never recorded. After weaving a web of lies around their actions, the indictment charges, the two accused swindlers brought their act to a local bank, claiming they owned the building “free and clear”. According to the indictment, for this lie they obtained a $1.8 million mortgage which they failed to repay.
Ultimately, the criminal complaint asserts, they fraudulently obtained the elderly woman’s apartment building and another $1.8 million by defrauding the bank.
Charges against the two include multiple bank and wire fraud counts which together carry a maximum prison term of 100 years behind bars.
Meanwhile, Abakporo is cooling his heels in detention where he is confined until he can post a $1 million bond secured by an interest in property and co-signed by three people.
*The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven
Mrs. Ina McArthur, 78, is the victim.