Family members, an employee, a pastor, and others related to a Nigerian business mogul undergoing trial, Obiwanne Okeke, have flooded a U.S. court with appeals for leniency ahead of his sentencing for wire fraud.
In a series of letters of attestation to character sent to Rebecca Smith, the judge handling the case at a Virginia court, they expressed shock about the involvement of Mr Okeke in the unlawful activities and pleaded he be given a second chance.
They also pledged he would not take part in any unlawful act again.
Obiwaanne, also known as Invictus Obi, will be sentenced today.
The 33-year-old and Chairman of Abuja-based Invictus Group, before his arrest in 2019, was listed as one of the influential young entrepreneurs recognised by Forbes.
Mr Okeke was nabbed by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) which alleged he connived with certain individuals, some of whom remain at large, to defraud American companies and individuals over a period of at least four years.
One of his victims, Unatrac, a subsidiary of American heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, lost $11 million in spurious wire transfers, court documents showed.
Agents of the international security agency obtained an arrest warrant and intercepted the fraudster in the airport while returning to Nigeria after a brief visit to the U.S. in 2019.
However, after months of denying his involvement in the crime before a federal judge in the U.S. and argument over jurisdiction, he pleaded guilty to the allegation of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate with American authorities last year June.