A former aide to the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, Abidemi Rufai, has been sentenced to five years in prison for stealing more than $500,000 in pandemic relief benefits in the United States. Rufai was wearing a $10,000 watch and $35,000 gold chain when he was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York on his way to Nigeria in May 2021, reports The Associated Press. Rufai pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, Washington, in May to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges, and Judge Benjamin Settle issued the sentence Monday.
The judge also ordered Rufai to pay more than $600,000 in restitution. Prosecutors said the 45-year-old had a history of defrauding the US government, including using stolen identities to file for emergency relief after hurricanes in Texas and Florida.
“When disaster struck, so did Mr. Rufai,” Seattle U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, said in a statement. The statement added: “Whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or COVID unemployment benefits, he stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States.”