Nigerian, Rasheed Mustapha, pleads Not Guilty To Theft Conspiracy Charges

Rasheed Mustapha

After being extradited from his home country, a Nigerian man pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to steal large sums of money from 401(k) accounts while employed as a customer service representative at a New Jersey-based call center, federal authorities said.
Rasheed Mustapha also consented to remain in custody for now, said his defense attorney, adding that he’s working on putting together a proposed bail package for his client.
According to authorities and an indictment, Mustapha and his co-conspirators stole more than $750,000 in retirement-account checks in 2006 and 2007, while also managing to withdraw substantial proceeds from those checks before one of Mustapha’s co-defendants was arrested. The 36-count indictment, which names Mustapha and three others, alleges he worked at a Little Falls office of Affiliated Computer Services and lived in or near Elizabeth and Orange.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said Mustapha, 35, fled to Nigeria but was arrested last March. He arrived in the United States on Wednesday, Fishman said.
“According to the indictment, Rasheed Mustapha was instrumental in a scheme to steal the identities of his employer’s customers and wipe out their retirement accounts,” Fishman said today in a statement. “We are grateful for strong law enforcement partnerships that cross borders to bring the world’s criminals to account for targeting U.S. citizens.”
Authorities, citing case documents and court statements, said Mustapha and his co-conspirators gained access to seven retirement accounts using confidential customer-identity information. They added that Mustapha stole information through his work at the call center.
But Mustapha’s attorney, Bukie O. Adetula, said today that “just like any other defendant, (his client) enjoys the presumption of innocence.” He called the indictment against Mustapha “bare bones” and said he’d “defend this as aggressively as we can.”
Authorities said the other three people charged have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. In addition, they noted, eight residents of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Arizona who participated in Mustapha’s alleged scheme have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in related cases.
Mustapha is charged with 22 mail-fraud and money-laundering counts, each of which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
He’s also charged with seven counts of theft from a 401(k) plan, each of which carries a maximum of five years, and with seven counts of aggravated identity theft, each of which carries a mandatory, consecutive sentence of two years in prison.



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