Married Couple Facing Federal Indictment for a Series of Fraud Schemes, Including Passport Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Bankruptcy Fraud
From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland:
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Andrews Oduro Brown, a/k/a Andrews Oduro, age 39, and Charmaine Miesha Brown, age 43, both of Germantown, Maryland, for conspiracies to commit passport fraud and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, bankruptcy fraud, and making false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding. The indictment was returned on April 28, 2022, and unsealed upon the arrest of the defendants.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Acting Special Agent in Charge Mark Lewis of the U.S. Department of the State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Washington Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration - Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division.
As detailed in the indictment, Andrews Oduro Brown, a/k/a Andrews Oduro was a Ghanaian national who entered the United States in May 2013. Oduro married Charmaine Miesha Brown, a United States citizen, in January 2014 and in 2021, obtained legal permanent resident status in the United States through his marriage to Brown. During this time, Oduro and Brown resided together with Oduro’s two children, Child A and Child B, and four of Brown’s children, including Child C.
According to the five-count indictment, from December 2014 through April 2021, Oduro and Brown conspired to obtain United States passports for non-United States citizen family members who were not entitled to receive such passports, through the use of false statements and fraudulent identity documents. Once passports were issued on the basis of the false and fraudulent applications, Oduro and Brown arranged for the transportation of non-United States citizen family members to the United States using the fraudulently issued passports.
For example, on December 1, 2014, Brown allegedly submitted an application for a passport in the name of her son, Child C, but bearing the photograph of Child A. The indictment alleges that Child A later used the fraudulent passport to enter the United States illegally. On March 16, 2015, Oduro and Brown allegedly applied for a passport in the name of Child A and submitted a fraudulent Ghanaian birth certificate, falsely stating that Brown was Child A’s mother, in support of the application. The indictment alleges that on March 17, 2020, Oduro and Brown applied for a passport in the name of Child B and again submitted a fraudulent Ghanaian birth certificate in support of the application that falsely stating that Brown was Child B’s mother. On August 5, 2015, Oduro also allegedly submitted a passport application in the name of a United States citizen, but bearing the photograph of Oduro’s sibling, who is not a United States citizen.
According to the indictment, from August 2016 through April 2021, Oduro and Brown conspired to receive Child Care Subsidy Program payments to which they were not entitled. The Child Care Subsidy Program provided reimbursement to low-income families for childcare and direct payments to both professional and informal providers of childcare to low-income families. The indictment alleges that Brown and Oduro falsely reported to the State of Maryland that Individual F, a friend, was watching their children, when in truth and in fact, Oduro assumed Individual F’s identity to pose as a paid childcare provider to his own child and stepchildren. The indictment alleges that Oduro and Brown used the personally identifying information (PII) of Individual F, without the victim’s knowledge or permission, to receive approximately $95,320 in Child Care Subsidy Program payments to which they were not entitled.
Finally, the indictment alleges that on March 5, 2018, Oduro and Brown defrauded creditors and the bankruptcy trustee, by filing a fraudulent Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition using the name and partial social security number of Individual F seeking the discharge of over $80,000 in debts and tax obligations to the State of Maryland that Oduro incurred using the name and PII of Individual F. On June 21, 2018, Oduro appeared at the discharge hearing in the bankruptcy court and identified himself as Individual F, presenting a Pennsylvania driver’s license Oduro had fraudulently obtained in the name of Individual F. As a result of the fraudulent bankruptcy petition in the name of Individual F, the indictment alleges that Oduro and Brown cause the entry of an order discharging approximately $49,317 in debt that Oduro incurred in the name of Individual F.
If convicted, Oduro and Brown each face a maximum sentence of 5 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit passport fraud; a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud; a mandatory sentence of two years in federal prison, consecutive to any other sentence imposed, for aggravated identity theft; a maximum of 5 years in prison for bankruptcy fraud; and a maximum of 5 years in prison for false statements in bankruptcy. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael F. Davio, who is prosecuting the federal case.