Detained internet fraudster, Ramon Abbas alias ‘Hushpuppi’ has hired top-rated criminal defence lawyer, John Iweanoge in a bid to forestall impending 11-year jail sentence for fraud.
Iweanoge, is an attorney whose client list extends to Nigerians including Obinwanne Okeke popularly known as Invictus Obi.
According to Peoples Gazette, Hushpuppi sought new legal representation as revealed by a pro hac vice application filed before the United States District Court in the Central District of California.
“APPLICATION of Non-Resident Attorney John O. Iweanoge, II to Appear Pro Hac Vice on behalf of Defendant Ramon Olorunwa Abbas (Pro Hac Vice Fee – $500 Fee Paid, Receipt No. ACACDC-33979986) Filed by Defendant Ramon Olorunwa Abbas. (Attachments: # (1) Proposed Order G-64 Order for Pro Hac Vice Admission) (Khouri, Michael),” the document said.
Hushpuppi previously appealed for a release on humanitarian grounds, but Judge Otis D. Wright declined his pleas for failing to comply with extant court rules.
The pro hac vice application allows the addition of an attorney to a case in a jurisdiction in which they are not licensed to practice. Mr Iweanoge, whose law offices are located in Washington, DC, will be now be able to defend Mr Abbas in court without committing unauthorised practice of law.
Abbas’s sentencing hearing is slated for September 21.
Meanwhile, the internet celebrity’s attorney, Louis Shapiro and U.S. officials sparred in court as Mr Abbas tries to delay his sentencing until November.
Shapiro argued that Mr Abbas would be unable to prepare for his sentencing hearing without all the documents relating to the Juma Case. The charges on the Juma case had been dropped by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in line with a plea bargain deal.
Prosecutors, led by Khaldoun Shobaki, maintained that there was no reason to “further delay the already long-delayed sentencing in this case,” adding that Mr Abbas admitted playing a leading role in the scheme when he pleaded guilty on April 20, 2021.
Shobaki had asked a federal judge to sentence Abbas to 11 years in prison and three years of supervised release for his role in a multinational conspiracy that earned him millions of dollars between 2019 and 2020.
The prosecutor suggested that Abbas should be asked to pay $1.7 million in restitution, $500,000 in fines, and $100 in administrative fees ahead of his sentencing.
Hushpuppi has been in custody in the United States after being transferred from Dubai where he was arrested in June 2020.