Ebony Mayfield, a co-conspirator in an alleged $20 million fraud involving the founder of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has pleaded guilty, PREMIUM TIMES is reporting.
Ms Mayfield pleaded guilty to one of the eight counts filed against her by the U.S. government at the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, in Atlanta, on June 29.
The fraud allegedly spearheaded by Mr Onyema was allegedly perpetrated under the guise of obtaining credit to buy aircraft for Air Peace, a frontline Nigerian airline, in the U.S.
Ms Mayfield was accused of helping Mr Onyema to facilitate the $20 million bank fraud between May 2016 and February 2018 when she worked as the manager for Springfield Aviation Company LLC, owned by the Air Peace founder.
U.S. prosecutors accused her of signing and submitting the false documents used by Mr Onyema to perpetrate the bank fraud in the U.S.
Ms Mayfield, who was arrested on June 7, 2019, for her alleged roles in the alleged scheme, had previously pleaded not guilty to all eight charges filed against her in December 2019.
Her trial was, in March this year, rescheduled to start on August 8.
But weeks before the trial date, she changed her plea from not guilty to guilty when she appeared before the trial judge, Eleanor Ross, on June 29.
A copy of the plea agreement she and her lawyer signed with U.S. prosecutors shows she specifically pleaded guilty to Count 5, which is a conspiracy to commit credit application fraud.
“The Defendant (Ebony Mayfield) admits that she is pleading guilty because she is in fact guilty of the crime(s) charged in Count 5,” a copy of the plea agreement read in part.
She risks up to five years’ jail term based on the plea agreement.
Five years’ imprisonment is the maximum jail term provided for in Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, under which she was charged with the offence in Count 5.
There are, however, indications that she would get less than five years at her sentencing already scheduled for September 21.
The plea agreement said if her “cooperation” with the government continues to qualify as “substantial assistance”, prosecutors “will file a motion at sentencing recommending a downward departure from the applicable guideline range.”
If her cooperation continues to qualify as substantial assistance after sentencing, the government said, it would again file “a motion for reduction of sentence.”