USA news December 12, 2011

USA captain Massiah arrested in fraud case

Steve Massiah, the USA captain, has been charged by United States federal authorities in connection with an alleged $50 million mortgage fraud case. Robert Nardoza, public affairs officer with the United States Attorney's Office representing the Eastern District of New York, confirmed the charges to ESPNcricinfo. Massiah declined to comment when contacted by ESPNcricinfo on Sunday night and USACA officials said they had no knowledge of criminal charges against Massiah.

Massiah, 32, is one of three men accused of defrauding banks and mortgage companies by allegedly falsifying mortgage loan applications to make borrowers appear more creditworthy to financial institutions. He was arrested at least two weeks ago before being released and is alleged to be a co-conspirator of Ed Ahmad, who was indicted by the US Attorney's Office in August on 10 counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. The acts are said to have taken place between 1995 and 2009.

Ahmad was arrested by the FBI in July at JFK International Airport in New York while on his way to Guyana and is out on $2.5 million bail; he faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of all 11 counts against him. Ahmad is known in the US cricket community primarily for sponsoring the Ed Ahmad Caribbean Cup, which was New York's premier cricket tournament from 2005 through 2008.

It is unclear if Massiah will be able to participate for USA in the World Twenty20 Qualifier, in UAE next March, as multiple sources believe the charges may have resulted in him having his passport confiscated by federal authorities.

"As far as Mr. Massiah is concerned, he is innocent until proven otherwise and USACA is not going to make any comment because USACA does not have any facts in front of it," Ahmed Jeddy, chairman of the USACA cricket committee, told ESPNcricinfo. USACA general manager Manaf Mohamed, who is also a member of the USACA cricket committee, was unsure whether Massiah would face any disciplinary action from USACA.

"I have to get directions from the board on that," Mohamed said. "I wasn't aware of anything. I saw him last week. He was here in Florida for a tournament." Sources present at the $50,000 US Cricket Open tournament in Lauderhill, Florida, from December 1-4, said Massiah played in the play-off rounds but did not participate in the group matches for his team because he was late arriving to the event.

Massiah and Ahmad have worked closely together in the past, but it is unclear what their current business relationship is. Massiah had been employed as a real estate agent under Ahmad at Century 21 Ahmad Realty in Ozone Park, New York, for at least seven years according to a source. However Massiah's name, along with the two others who were arrested and charged as co-conspirators, are no longer listed as real estate agents on a web site for Ahmad Realty.

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey