Buffalo Man Accused Of Lying On Passport Application

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

CONTACT:    Barbara Burns
PHONE:    (716) 843-5817
FAX #:    (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y. – U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross announced today that Melvin Leon Lee a/k/a Mohammad Caliph Lei, 70, of Buffalo, NY, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint with making a false statement in application and use of passport. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, who is handling the case, stated that according to the complaint, in April 2021, Melvin Leon Lee applied for a United States Passport. When Lee was asked if he had ever used any other names, he left that box on the application blank. The application was denied. Subsequent investigation determined that Lee falsely claimed that two prior passports, issued in July 1976 and March 1980, were lost. The investigation also uncovered Lee’s use of a second identity, “Mohammad Caliph Lei.” The defendant’s “Lei” identity was prevented from receiving a passport because of $12,450 in unpaid child support debt. As a result of that debt, Lei has been certified for passport denial since November 2001.

The complaint is the result of an investigation by the Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Keith J. Byrne, New York Field Office and the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Sharon B. MacDermott, New York Field Division.  

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.   

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