20th May, 2021
Abidemi Rufai, the 42-year-old suspended aide of Governor Dapo Abiodun lost a generous opportunity to be released on bail by a New York court on Wednesday, but he lacked a surety who was ready to post a $300,000 bond.
He will now be flown to Tacoma in Washington State to face trial for fraudulently claiming COVID-19 unemployment fund.
At Rufai’s appearance before a Federal magistrate, he asked the court to release him to the custody of his brother, who is an attorney, with practice in New York and Atlanta.
Abidemi had also agreed to electronic home monitoring and certain travel restrictions, said his attorney, Michael Barrows of Garden City, New York.
But Abidemi’s brother, Alaba Rufai, told the court by Zoom Wednesday morning that he could not afford the $300,000 “surety” bond that he was required to post to ensure that Abidemi got the bail.
The brother, who lives in Atlanta Georgia with his family, told P.M.News that the $300,000 bond was hefty for him, as he has no assets at this time, to deposit.
P.M.News also learnt that Alaba Rufai made efforts to contact Abidemi’s friends to stand surety for him. But none gave any indication of readiness to do so.
As a result of this problem, Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes ordered Abidemi Rufai detained and taken to the Western District of Washington, where he committed the offence he has been charged with.
“We’re pleased that the defendant is being detained and will be transported to the Western District of Washington for future court proceedings,” said a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.
He will now be taken to Tacoma in Washington state for his next court hearing.
Abidemi was arrested Friday in New York as he prepared to fly to Nigeria,
On Tuesday, federal prosecutors, according to Seattle Times, had argued that Rufai presented “an extreme risk of flight” and had requested that he be held in custody until his trial in federal court in Tacoma.
Rufai is charged with stealing more than $350,000 last year by filing fraudulent unemployment claims with the Washington state Employment Security Department (ESD) using the identities of more than 100 Washingtonians. It was the first “significant” arrest in that fraud, federal officials said.
Rufai “denies any involvement in these transactions,” Barrows, his lawyer, said on Tuesday.
Shortly after Wednesday’s hearing, Barrows said he was “seeking alternative surety” and intended to apply again for bail for Rufai.
Although defendants sometimes return to court in the afternoon following a morning hearing and seek to reopen a detention case, a spokesperson for the Eastern District of New York said Wednesday that “there is no second bail hearing scheduled at this time.”