- Associated Press - Sunday, August 8, 2010

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Beatrice Munyenyezi brought her three daughters to the United States from war-ravaged Rwanda in 1998 and focused on the American dream: private schooling for her girls, a home with a swimming pool, a sport utility vehicle.

Before long, she had a $13-an-hour job at Manchester’s Housing Authority in New Hampshire, her children were enrolled in Catholic school, and she was on her way to financing a comfortable American lifestyle through mortgages, loans and credit cards.

Now the 40-year-old mother sits behind bars, held without bond while she awaits trial on federal citizenship fraud charges for allegedly lying about involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

Authorities say she was an extremist Hutu who killed and enabled the rapes of untold Tutsi victims — not the innocent refugee she claimed to be in 1995 to gain U.S. entry, when she applied for a visa and for citizenship.

Mrs. Munyenyezi (moon-yehn-YEH’-zee) has pleaded not guilty to two counts of lying to obtain U.S. citizenship on her refugee and naturalization applications, by denying any role in the Rwanda genocide. She is scheduled for trial in May 2011.

Her dream life apparently at an end, it started falling apart years earlier. She filed for bankruptcy in May 2008, walking away from hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt: a $222,000 mortgage, $14,125 in student loans, $4,198 in municipal taxes and fees, and $30,000 in credit card and other unsecured debt.

“She lived here for probably two years without paying her mortgage; she didn’t pay her bills for a good two years,” said Tom Prince of Manchester, who lived across the street from Mrs. Munyenezi. “We all feel she took advantage.”

Assets she listed included $1,500 in a checking account, $2,000 worth of furniture and $500 in clothing. She also owned a 2000 Toyota 4Runner valued at $12,000.

Her bankruptcy lawyers did not return calls seeking comment.

In early 2003, she was sworn in as a U.S. citizen and bought a three-bedroom home on Howe Street for $190,000 in November, according to city records. She refinanced it three years later for $235,000.

She worked full time from 2001 to 2005 as a family services coordinator for the Manchester Housing and Redevelopment Authority. Director Dick Dunfey would not comment on Mrs. Munyenyezi, citing office policy.

When she first moved in, Mr. Prince helped her clean out a backyard pool and get its filter in working order. Next- door neighbor Scott Silver helped with moving things, including her new wide-screen TV, and cleared her walkway of snow.

“She knew nothing about owning a home,” Mr. Prince said. “She never said, ‘Thank you.’”

When she didn’t need their help, Mrs. Munyenyezi was quiet and kept to herself. They described her three daughters as polite, smart girls who played basketball. Now teenagers, they are living with relatives in the United States.

Both men said they saw large scars on Mrs. Munyenyezi’s shoulders and arms when she wore halter dresses. At least once a year she traveled to Africa for two to four weeks at a time, they said. Her Rav4 vanity plate was “Shalom,” her husband’s name.

Story Continues →