- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 21, 2005

BALTIMORE — A baggage handler at Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday was sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to his role in an identity-theft scheme that netted more than $7 million.

Tearful and repentant, Kehinde Akintola Oladapo begged the court for leniency after his attorney described him as a “small cog in the wheel” and a “mouse in a big city.”

U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis agreed with that description of Oladapo. “He’s hardly the mastermind,” he said. “Fact is, Mr. Oladapo was used.”

The sentence was less than what was recommended under the federal sentencing guidelines, but Judge Garbis said Oladapo was involved in a serious offense.

He ordered Oladapo to pay $7 million in restitution and to serve five years on supervised release after serving his sentence.

The restitution order allows prosecutors to seize Oladapo’s house, car and any other property.

“He fed the machine; he was the guy who stole the coal and put it in the furnace,” Judge Garbis said.

Oladapo, 48, of Lanham, worked on the ramp at Southwest Airlines when he was arrested last year and charged with mail theft.

Prosecutors said the baggage handler stole mail containing checks and credit cards and forwarded it to co-conspirators in New York City.

Those conspirators used the stolen financial documents to obtain cash advances and withdrawals from lines of credit.

Oladapo was paid more than $2,500 a month for his role.

Also arrested last year were Oladapo’s wife, Olushola Oladapo, and a Brooklyn man, Oladapo Udukale.

The disposition of those cases was not available.

Prosecutors had sought a 25-year sentence for Kehinde Oladapo, saying the scheme had continued for six to eight years and involved thousands of victims and the loss of millions of dollars. They described it as one of the biggest bank-fraud schemes in the country.

“This was a very long-term scheme,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamera Fine said. “He may not have been the mastermind, but he was essential. Without Mr. Oladapo, none of this happens.”

Oladapo, speaking through his tears, pleaded with the court for the chance to serve as a better role model for his four children.

“For the sake of my children, don’t send me away. I’m pleading to you, don’t send me away,” he said. “I’m pleading and begging. This is the first thing I ever did wrong in 25 years in this country. Spare me, your honor, don’t send me away.”

Oladapo’s attorney told the court he had a clean record and was deep in debt.

The Nigerian-born Oladapo is a naturalized U.S. citizen who has retained Nigerian citizenship.

He told the judge he came to the United States to further his education, but when both of his parents died, he had to take care of his siblings. He quit school and worked to provide for them, he said.

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