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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A Rwandan man, who is serving 15 years in federal prison on immigration fraud charges, was convicted of insurance fraud Thursday in Linn County District Court.
Gervais 'Ken' Ngombwa, 56, of Cedar Rapids, made an Alford plea to insurance fraud-presenting false information. An Alford or no contest plea is when a defendant doesn't admit guilt but admits the prosecution has enough evidence to prove the charge.
Authorities said Ngombwa, also originally charged with second-degree arson, intentionally set fire to his Habitat for Humanity home in Cedar Rapids and then submitted a false insurance claim for damages in 2013.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde sentenced Ngombwa to five years in prison but suspended it and gave him two years probation.
Hoover-Grinde ran the sentence concurrent to his federal time, but U.S. District Judge Linda Reade said in her March sentencing order that any state court sentence should run consecutively to the federal sentence. It may be a mute issue because Ngombwa is likely to be deported back to Rwanda after his federal time is served.
He was convicted in two Rwandan courts in 2011 for genocide and crimes against humanity, according to trial testimony.
Last year, Reade revoked Ngombwa's U.S. citizenship and canceled the naturalization certificate he had obtained in November 2004 after he was convicted by a federal jury in January 2016 of unlawfully procuring or trying to procure naturalization or citizenship, procuring citizenship to which he was not entitled, conspiracy to unlawfully procure citizenship and making a materially false statement to agents of the Department of Homeland Security in U.S. District Court.
Evidence at trial showed Ngombwa lied to authorities about family relationships in an attempt to get his application approved for relocation as a refugee in 1998 and to later obtain citizenship. Testimony also indicated that Ngombwa falsely claimed to be the brother of a former prime minister of Rwanda, who lives in exile in Belgium.
The defense disputed Ngombwa's participation in the genocide during trial and in other hearings. Ngombwa claimed he didn't understand interpreters and authorities at refugee camps.
Ray Scheetz, Ngombwa's lawyer, said Ngombwa didn't kill anyone, wasn't a leader of MDR-Power — a Hutu extremist political party that responsible for killing an estimated 800,000 Tutsi people — and did not incite others to kill.
Reade in her sentencing said there was 'no doubt in my mind' that Ngombwa actively participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Reade said during his sentencing that she didn't know how many lives Ngombwa is responsible for taking or how many others he transported to kill people, as evidence showed. She said she would leave that punishment up to the Rwandan government.
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