Beatrice Munyenyezi brought her three daughters to the United States from war-ravaged Rwanda in 1998 and focused on the American Dream: private schooling for her girls, a home with a swimming pool, a sport utility vehicle.
Before long, she had a $13-an-hour job at Manchester’s Housing Authority in New Hampshire, her children were enrolled in Catholic school, and she was on her way to financing a comfortable American lifestyle through mortgages, loans and credit cards.
Now the 40-year-old mother sits behind bars, held without bond while she awaits trial on federal citizenship fraud charges for allegedly lying about involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
Authorities say she was an extremist Hutu who killed and enabled the rapes of untold Tutsi victims–not the innocent refugee she claimed to be in 1995 to gain U.S. entry, when she applied for a visa and for citizenship.
Munyenyezi (moon-yehn-YEH’-zee) has pleaded not guilty to two counts of lying to obtain U.S. citizenship on her refugee and naturalization applications, by denying any role in the Rwanda genocide. She is scheduled for trial in May 2011.
Her dream life apparently ended, it started falling apart years earlier. She filed for bankruptcy in May 2008, walking away from hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt: a $222,000 mortgage, $14,125 in student loans, $4,198 in municipal taxes and fees and $30,000 in credit card and other unsecured debt.
“She lived here for probably two years without paying her mortgage; she didn’t pay her bills for a good two years,” said Tom Prince of Manchester, who lived across the street from Munyenezi. “We all feel she took advantage.”
“She knew nothing about owning a home,” Prince said. “She never said, ‘Thank you.'”