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Criminal Practice – Relation back doctrine makes superseding indictment timely

Where the factual allegations in the original indictment involving conspiratorial conduct in Nigeria to conceal proceeds of a fraud scheme in the United States provided the defendant notice of the accusations, and the superseding indictment departed from the original by changing “conspiracy to commit wire fraud” to “wire fraud,” the superseding indictment related back to the original and was thus timely.


Seun Banjo Ojedokun was convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, in contravention of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). Ojedokun’s conviction arose from his conspiratorial conduct in Nigeria, which involved efforts to distribute and conceal the proceeds of an extensive fraud scheme based in the United States.

The grand jury returned a superseding indictment in August 2020, which Ojedokun unsuccessfully moved to dismiss as untimely. Ojedokun filed multiple unavailing suppression motions, was convicted and sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment and subsequently moved for a new trial. Following the district court’s denial of that motion, Ojedokun filed a motion for reconsideration, asserting the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction by reason of an inappropriate application of § 1956’s extraterritorial jurisdiction provision. The court likewise rejected that motion.

Extraterritorial jurisdiction

Ojedokun’s principal argument is that § 1956(f) did not afford the district court extraterritorial jurisdiction to hear the § 1956(h) money laundering conspiracy charge growing out of his actions abroad.

First, he urges that the express terms of § 1956(f) do not overcome the presumption against extraterritoriality with respect to § 1956(h) conspiracy offenses, because a subsection (h) conspiracy is not “conduct” as subsection (f) conceives of that term and because such conspiracy offenses do not require a “transaction” as contemplated by § 1956(f)(2). Second, Ojedokun asserts that even if § 1956(f) applies to § 1956(h) conspiracies as a general matter, the provision cannot extend to cover his conspiratorial conduct in this case because his actions did not occur “in part in the United States” but instead exclusively in Nigeria.

The court rejects both arguments. Section 1956(f) clearly and unambiguously extends the extraterritorial reach of § 1956 to conspiracy offenses under § 1956(h) and also applies on its own terms to Ojedokun’s conduct in Nigeria. The district court did not err in so determining and was properly vested with subject matter jurisdiction over this case.


The second issue presented by Ojedokun in this appeal is whether the district court erred in determining, multiple times, that the superseding indictment was timely returned. Ojedokun contends that the superseding indictment was untimely under the five-year limitations period set out at 18 U.S.C. § 3282(a) because it “substantially amended” the nature of the conspiracy charge in the original indictment, such that it could not relate back to the date of the original.

A court’s consideration of whether the superseding indictment “substantially amended” the original indictment is not confined to considering elements of the charged offense, but must instead take stock of the larger context of what each indictment alleged and whether the substance of the first “fairly alerted the defendant to the subsequent charges” outlined in the second. Here, the factual allegations recited in the original indictment afforded Ojedokun more than sufficient notice of what he was accused of in the superseding indictment, which departed from the original largely by changing the phrase “conspiracy to commit wire fraud” to “wire fraud.”

Remaining arguments

The remaining two contentions put forward by Ojedokun were not presented to the district court, and both grow out of his interview by the FBI in April 2019. First, Ojedokun asserts that the FBI agents violated the Fourth Amendment when they entered his home in Chicago and that the district court’s admission of the resultant evidence was accordingly reversible plain error. Second, Ojedokun alleges his trial counsel rendered constitutionally ineffective assistance as defined by the Sixth Amendment by failing to move to suppress the FBI’s evidence on the aforementioned Fourth Amendment grounds. The court concludes that Ojedokun’s Fourth Amendment claim lacks merit and decline to reach the ineffective assistance claim raised for the first time on direct appeal.


United States v. Ojedokun (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-180-21, 41 pp.) (Robert Bruce King, J.) Case No. 21-4127. Oct. 26, 2021. From D. Md. at Greenbelt (Paul W. Grimm, J.) Brent Evan Newton for Appellant. John Michael Pellettieri for Appellee.

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