Habib Opeyeni Lawal mug shot

Habib Opeyeni Lawal

A New Jersey man will repay more than $94,000 to a Fairview man after he accepted a judicial diversion plea following a 2020 incident that led to several financial crime charges. 

28-year-old Habib O. Lawal, of Elizabeth, N.J., was initially charged with money laundering, theft of property ($60-$250,000) and computer fraud ($60-$250,000) following a Williamson County Grand Jury indictment in June 2021. 

As previously reported, the charges stem from a 2020 incident where the victim, a man from Fairview, attempted to buy a piece of property last year.

The victim recounted in a phone call with the Home Page that as he attempted to purchase the property in Nunnelly, Tenn., he sent a little over $94,000 in a wire transfer to a bank account provided by reputable representatives of a real estate closing company via email.

About an hour and a half after receiving the wire instructions, the victim said he received a second email from the sender which provided what the email said was corrected bank account number to send the money to, citing an error with the original email that was sent to the man.

The victim then transferred the money, but the payment was never received to complete the real estate transaction, which then led to the victim contacting his bank.

The victim alleged that Lawal "hacked" some part of the financial processes and stole the money. On Nov. 22, Lawal entered into the plea agreement which saw him receive a judicial diversion sentence for the charges of money laundering and theft of property, while the computer fraud charge was dropped as part of the agreement. 

Per the judicial diversion agreement, Lawal may be eligible for expungement once he has met all of the conditions of the plea, most notably the repayment of the restitution to the victim, with Lawal having already paid $25,000 of that some $94,000 on the plea date.

Lawal's attorney, Eric Larsen, said in an email that he and his client were "thrilled with the resolution" of the case that he called "complicated."