Rwandan convicted of immigration fraud faces more prison time

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A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a man convicted last year of immigration fraud “actively participated in the Rwandan genocide.”

That involvement will extend his time in prison.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda Reade issued a 48-page ruling, concluding Gervais “Ken” Ngombwa, 56, of Cedar Rapids, was a leader of MDR-Power, a Hutu extremist political party. MDR-Power participated with other Hutu groups in the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. An estimated more than 1,000,000 Tutsis were killed.

Reade also said witnesses in Rwanda “credibly stated” that Ngombwa personally killed numerous Tutsi, transported and directed the youth militia to kill Tutsi, looted Tutsi property and led brutal attacks on Tutsi seeking refuge in locations, such as a local church and a priest’s compound.

Ngombwa now faces nine to more than 10 years in federal prison.

A jury convicted him in January 2016 of unlawfully procuring or trying to procure naturalization or citizenship, procuring citizenship to which he was not entitled, conspiracy to unlawfully procure citizenship and making a materially false statement to agents of the Department of Homeland Security in U.S. District Court.

One procuring charge is to be vacated at sentencing, court documents show.

Evidence at trial showed Ngombwa lied to authorities about his family relationships in an attempt to get his application approved for relocation as a refugee in 1998 and to later obtain citizenship. Testimony suggested that Ngombwa falsely claimed to be the brother of Faustin Twagiramungu, a former Prime Minister of Rwanda, who lives in exile in Belgium.

The defense disputed Ngombwa’s participation in the 1994 genocide against Tutsis during trial and in other hearings. Ngombwa claimed he didn’t understand interpreters and authorities at refugee camps.

Last May, Reade revoked Ngombwa’s U.S. citizenship and canceled the naturalization certificate he had obtained in November 2004 after he was convicted.

In September, during the first part of Ngombwa’s sentencing, prosecutors presented testimony from multiple witnesses, among them agents from the Department of Homeland Security and a London professor who has researched recovery and reconciliation in Rwanda since 2002.

The evidence showed Ngombwa was convicted in two courts in Rwanda for his genocide involvement.

On Wednesday, Reade also found Ngombwa made several false statements in the course of the refugee resettlement process: failing to disclose names of numerous relatives living in Rwanda; claiming certain children were his own biological children with his wife, Antoinette Mukakabanda; claiming he hadn’t been married to another woman; and denying he had relatives in the military.

Reade also cited Ngombwa for providing false statements to DHS agents during an April 2014 interview, committing perjury at trial, obstructing justice, intentionally setting fire to his Cedar Rapids home and submitting a false insurance claim for damages in 2013.

Ngombwa is set to plead guilty to state charges of arson and insurance fraud in March, court documents show.

Based on Wednesday’s ruling, the advisory guideline range is 100-125 months in prison. Reade said in the ruling that she could increase prison time based on the all the aggravating circumstances cited by prosecutors.

“Defendant’s acts during the 1994 genocide against were brutally violent and warrant significant punishment,” she said.

Ngombwa is likely to be removed from the United States following his release from prison and he’ll likely face further consequences for his Rwandan court convictions, as well as pending prosecution by the Rwandan National Public Prosecution Authority.

Reade said her final ruling on sentencing is to come March 2.

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