Collin County Woman Guilty in Theft Scheme
SHERMAN – A Melissa woman has pleaded guilty to federal violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.
Nnenna Mary Jones, 39, pleaded guilty to wire fraud today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christine A. Nowak.
According to information presented in court, the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity in Plano, Texas, serves Muslim women and their families who are survivors of domestic and family violence. The Foundation offers its clients in-house legal assistance with the immigration process, among other services. The Foundation advertises that it offers its services—including immigration legal assistance—free of charge. Jones worked for the Foundation as a paralegal and was a Department of Justice Accredited Representative, which allowed her to represent clients in court in immigration matters with the Department of Homeland Security. She was also a licensed attorney in Nigeria before moving to the United States.
The Foundation’s legal team routinely requests waivers of certain fees its clients incur during the immigration process, and most of its clients qualify for these waivers. If the Foundation’s clients do not qualify for a waiver of the immigration fees, then at times the Foundation pays the fee. However, Jones represented to clients of the Foundation that they were required to pay certain fees to the government in relation to their immigration proceedings. In reality, the clients’ fees had either been waived by the government or paid by the Foundation. Clients wrote checks and obtained money orders in the amounts of the fees Jones told them they owed to the government. However, Jones instructed the clients to leave the “pay to” line on the checks and money orders blank. Jones photocopied the clients’ checks and money orders, wrote “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” on the “pay to” line of the photocopied checks and money orders, and placed the photocopies in the clients’ files. Jones then wrote her own name in the “pay to” line of the clients’ original checks and money orders and cashed them or deposit them into her own accounts.
Jones stole approximately $17,000 from at least nine of the Foundation’s clients.
Jones was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 19, 2022. She faces up to 20 years in federal prison. The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J. Taylor.