A popular Nigerian Instagram celebrity facing wire fraud charges in the United States, Ramoni Abbas (popularly called Hushpuppi), has settled for a government lawyer after his case was transferred to another district.
Mr Abbas, 37, who was resident in Dubai and known for flaunting extravagant lifestyle on social media, was arrested last month over money laundering allegations. He was extradited to the U.S on July 3.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had earlier alleged that Mr Abbas was part of a network that made “hundreds of millions of dollars” from business email compromise frauds and other scams.
Also, the American government said Mr Abbas funded his extravagant lifestyle with stolen money.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how Mr Abbas hired a top lawyer in the U.S., Gal Pissetzky of the Pissetzky & Berliner law firm as his attorney.
Mr Pissetzky, renowned for handling criminal cases in Chicago, had argued that his client sourced his money from promoting designer products on social media and a real estate investment.
It should be noted a Chicago court, on Monday, denied him bail and ruled that he remains in detention till his next trial date later in the year.
However, documents obtained by PREMIUM TIMES showed that Mr Abbas’s case has been transferred to the Central District of California for prosecution.
American prosecutors had earlier said Mr Abbas would still be transferred to Los Angeles, a city in California.
During the detention hearing on Monday, the government orally renewed its motion for removal in custody and the government’s oral motion was granted.
“Accordingly, Defendant is ordered removed to the Central District of California in the custody of the U.S. Marshal forthwith. As provided by 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f), Defendant is remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal and shall remain in custody until further order of the Court,” Justice Gilbert ruled.
Transfer documents signed by Thomas G. Bruton, the Clerk of the U.S Court in Chicago, indicated that Mr Abbas was moved on Tuesday.
Moreover, in the commitment letter sent to California, Mr Abbas refused to retain Mr Pissetzky as his attorney. Rather, he requested that a court-appointed counsel be assigned to him.
If convicted, Mr Abbas would get a minimum sentence of 20 years in the U.S. federal prison.
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