NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An illegal immigrant from Nigeria admitted Friday he assumed the identity of a murdered man so he could work at Newark's airport, where he was a security supervisor for 20 years. He now faces possible deportation.
Bimbo Oyewole, 54, pleaded guilty in state court to using a fake security badge under a plea deal in which prosecutors agreed to recommend he receive probation. He had been charged with identity theft when he was arrested in May.
He will be jailed pending sentencing Oct. 19. The state attorney general's office, which prosecuted the case, said Oyewole faces potential deportation.
Oyewole admitted in court that he is in the country illegally, having entered on a student visa in 1989 and stayed after it expired.
"I came in legally," Oyewole, hands cuffed behind his back, told the court.
Oyewole admitted he used the identity and identity papers of Jerry Thomas, who was shot outside a Queens, N.Y., YMCA in 1992.
Authorities had said Oyewole assumed Thomas's identity weeks before he died. Police in New York said Thomas had sold his documents to a Nigerian cab driver, who then sold them to Oyewole. They said they had no evidence tying Oyewole to Thomas' death.
Oyewole said he presented Thomas' birth certificate and Social Security card to airport officials. He then received ID cards that give airport workers security clearance.
Prosecutors said Oyewole also obtained a New Jersey driver's license and high school equivalency diploma under Thomas' name.
The Port Authority, which operates Newark Liberty International Airport, said Oyewole most recently worked for FJC Security Services, a contractor that staffs access gates and had access to airplanes and the tarmac. He supervised about 30 guards.
Port Authority officials were alerted to Oyewole after receiving an anonymous letter about him.
"Today's conviction will serve notice to all that the Port Authority of NY and NJ will not tolerate fraud or any other criminal misconduct at its facilities," Port Authority Inspector General Robert E. Van Etten said in a statement.