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September 30, 11

NEWS / Two Individuals Sentenced in Virginia for Roles in Matching Charitable Funds Fraud Scheme

WASHINGTON – Stephan Bekale and Jamal Ibraheem were sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., for conspiring to commit wire fraud as part of a matching funds scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III sentenced Bekale, 31, of Indianapolis, and Ibraheem, 38, of Bethesda, Md., to 30 months and 12 months in prison, respectively. Additionally, Bekale and Ibraheem were ordered to pay $276,600 in restitution, jointly and severally. Bekale was also ordered to forfeit a BMW vehicle. Bekale and Ibraheem pleaded guilty on July 14, 2011, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

According to the indictment and information presented in court, Bekale fraudulently obtained matching funds from Bank of America’s charitable arm after he falsely certified that charitable contributions had been made to his nonprofit organization, “Hoops for Africa,” by Bank of America employees. Ibraheem is a former Bank of America employee who admitted that he falsely certified donations made in his name and that he recruited additional bank employees to participate in Bekale’s fraud scheme.

According to court documents, from approximately March 2007 through May 2009, approximately 31 bank employees, located at three different banking locations, logged onto Bank of America’s website for its Matching Gifts Program and certified that they donated money to “Hoops for Africa.” The fraudulent employee donations to “Hoops for Africa” ranged from $1,300 to $7,500 per donation, and a total of 57 matching gift requests were received by Bank of America’s charitable arm. As a result of those falsely registered donations, Bank of America eventually processed 55 of the transactions and disbursed through its charitable foundation a total of approximately $276,600 in matching gifts to “Hoops for Africa.”

Bekale and Ibraheem were charged in a 10-count indictment unsealed on April 5, 2011, along with three other defendants. Irma DeMartini, of Sterling, Va., pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 21, 2011. Charges are still pending against co-defendants Reynaldo “Christian” Villarroel and Maritza Villarroel, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lytle of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Eric L. Gibson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.


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AnnaMaria Realbuto
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