Plano man facing immigration, health care fraud charges
PLANO — A Plano man is in hot legal water after authorities accused him of entering into a fraudulent marriage in order to gain U.S. citizenship.
Okey Festus Nwagbara, a 46-year-old native of Nigeria, was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on six counts related to the incident. This was the second round of federal charges Nwagbara has faced in the last three months, after having been indicted on health care fraud charges in October.
According to court affidavits, Nwagbara entered the country legally in July 2001 and two months later was granted a divorce from his wife, Gloria Nwagbara, also a native of Nigeria. Nwagbara then married Stephanie McDowell, a U.S. citizen, in March 2002 and applied for lawful permanent resident status, which was granted in 2004 based on his marriage to McDowell.
In July 2007 Nwagbara filled out an N-400 document, which is required to become a naturalized citizen. The application was approved and he became a citizen in January 2008.
Federal officials insist the marriage was a sham, saying that Gloria gave birth to two children after the divorce, with Nwagbara listed as the father on both birth certificates. They also said Nwagbara lied on his N-400 when he said he had no children and lived with McDowell in Texas, as well as lying on other documents including an application for a loan for his Plano home in 2006. On the loan application, he answered yes to the question asking if he was a U.S. citizen.
Two days after Nwagbara was indicted on the heath care fraud charges, McDowell spoke with agents from Homeland Security and provided the details of the alleged false marriage.
"McDowell told [the] affiant that she married Nwagbara solely to help him obtain his immigration status," the affidavit reads. "She said they never lived together and that they never had sexual relations. McDowell indicated that she never lived in Texas, as indicated on Nwagbara’s N-400. She said the signature on the application for alien relative was not hers, although she did sign other papers used in support of the application."
The health care fraud charges stem from a business operated by Nwagbara in Richardson, Advanced MedEquip and Supplies Limited. The federal indictment alleges that Nwagbara, as well as his co-defendant Jerry Bullard, improperly billed Medicare out of more than $500,000 for medical equipment that "was not medically necessary, and in many cases not provided."
Nwagbara and Bullard are facing six counts of committing health care fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Nwagbara is being held at the federal prison in Seagoville and is not being offered bail because he is considered a serious flight risk due to his ties to Nigeria and because the government intends to begin the denaturalization process if it is proven he obtained his citizenship by means of fraud.