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Ghanaian charged for lying to obtain US citizenship, illegally voting in 10 elections

A federal grand jury last week indicted a Fulton man on charges of passport fraud, falsely claiming U.S. citizenship and illegally voting.

Michael Nana Baako, a 50-year-old Ghanaian native, was a physician who practiced in Maryland hospitals and had his own clinic. The indictment was unsealed Wednesday upon his initial appearance at federal court in Baltimore.

Prosecutors said that since around 2001, Baako and a non-citizen significant other have lived in Howard County, where they raised two American-born children.

On or around Dec. 5, 1995, both Baako and his significant other applied for non-immigrant visas, which they received from the U.S. embassy in Accra. That following year, Baaka at least twice used his Ghanian passport to enter the country. Around that same year, he applied for certification of his Ghanaian medical education in the U.S. In 2001, he was licensed to practice in Maryland.

In 1998, Baako and another woman were legally married in Virginia. She filed a petition for his naturalization. In 1999, Baako made a sworn statement to immigration officials saying that he was born in Ghana and was not an American citizen. The following year, the petition was denied by officials who concluded the marriage was a sham, entered into only for immigration purposes.

In 2002, Baako and his later significant other applied at a post office for a passport on behalf of a child. On that form, Baako again admitted he was not an American citizen. In 2004, he and the mother submitted “diversity visa” applications, but failed to appear for an interview with U.S. officials in Ghana, as the application required.

In 2005, Baako allegedly registered to vote at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, swearing under penalty of perjury he was an American citizen. He then allegedly voted in approximately 10 elections for federal candidates, including seven general elections.

In 2007, Baako went to a post office in Fulton to submit a passport application and allegedly lied under penalty of perjury that he was an American citizen born in North Carolina. He allegedly did the same at a post office in Columbia the following year. He allegedly stated his parents were born in North Carolina and said the mother of his children was born in South Carolina. He provided a sworn affidavit from another individual claiming he was born in North Carolina. The person claimed he was friends with Baako’s parents and was one of the first to see him after his birth.

Baako was then issued an American passport based on this information. He used the passport for international travel on several occasions, prosecutors said.

In 2009, he and the mother of his children applied for a passport on behalf of their other child. He allegedly presented himself as an American citizen. In a subsequent interview with State Department officials, he allegedly said he was born in North Carolina. He allegedly repeated the false claim on a passport renewal for his older child.

In 2018, he submitted an application to renew his own passport, repeating what prosecutors said was a false claim. In an interview with State Department officials that June, he allegedly said he was born in North Carolina and moved to Ghana when he was a baby. He allegedly lied to officials about never having applied for an immigration benefit and that he never submitted any documents to obtain naturalization.

Baako faces up to 10 years in federal prison on each of the four counts of passport fraud, up to three years for falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, and up to one year for each of three counts of illegal voting. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Gallagher ordered him held pending a detention hearing on May 10.

While Republicans including President Donald Trump have complained of non-citizens voting, a 2017 analysis by the left-leaning Brennan Center for Justice found all voter fraud incidents, including non-citizen voting, to be rare. A voting integrity commission convened by the Trump administration found no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud.

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