Blank passports lead FBI to search Kent man’s home

Associated Press

SEATTLE — FBI agents seized computers, photographs, calling cards and financial documents from the home of a man who was arrested in Milwaukee with $44,000 in cash and nine blank passports, court documents show.

Acting on information provided by a Secret Service agent in Wisconsin, investigators searched a two-bedroom apartment in suburban Kent on Friday. A list of items seized was returned to U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday.

The man, identified as Ousman Sillah, 30, is being held without bail in Milwaukee on three felony and two misdemeanor charges of possessing fake identification and legitimate identification to be used fraudulently.

He was arrested at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport on March 7 after he tried to evade a security checkpoint while carrying a fake Pakistani passport, five different Indiana driver’s licenses, five different Social Security cards and nine blank passports from the Republic of Guinea, federal prosecutors say.

According to a search warrant affidavit, Sillah told authorities he used fake identities to file tax refund claims with H&R Block, and that he had received about $40,000 this year after filing 10 claims in Cincinnati and Indiana.

But the manager of the Dutchess of Kent apartments, where Sillah lived with two other men for $700 a month, told investigators he heard another story from Sillah’s girlfriend.

"She said that Ousman was in jail, and that she hoped it was only about him trying to get his friends into the country from Africa," wrote FBI Special Agent Kera Wulbert.

The Kent apartment manager also said Sillah’s wife planned to come from Oregon on Saturday to take his belongings from the apartment.

A message left with Sillah’s lawyer, associate federal public defender Nancy Joseph, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors say they do not believe Sillah, who was born in the West African nation of Sierra Leone and has a valid passport from Guinea-Bissau, has any connection to terrorists.

There may be more to the story, regardless.

"Since this affidavit is being submitted for the limited purpose of securing a search warrant, I have not included each and every fact known to me concerning this investigation," Wulbert wrote.

Other items seized from the apartment include printers, mail, a day planner and a list of telephone numbers.

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