Ramon Abbas, the indicted Nigerian internet fraudster, who is popularly known as ‘Hushpuppi’ has hired John Iweanoge.
He contracted John Iweanoge, a top Washington, D.C. criminal defence attorney, in a bid to avoid his impending jail sentence of 11 years as suggested by the United States prosecutors.
It was reported that Mr. Iweanoge is a top Washington, D.C. criminal defence attorney popular among Nigerian suspects charged in Virginia and Maryland.
A report stated that in a pro hac vice application filed before the United States District Court in the Central District of California, Mr. Abbas named Mr. Iweanoge as his attorney.
“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 report quoted the document.
It was gathered that 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.
Iweanoge, whose law offices are located in Washington, D.C. will now be able to defend Abbas in court without committing unauthorised practice of law.
The attorney had reportedly defended the now-imprisoned Nigerian fraudster Obinwanne ‘Invictus’ Okeke.
Okeke was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in a computer-based intrusion fraud scheme that caused about $11 million in losses to his victims.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Abbas’ decision to contract the popular attorney follows the fact that his sentencing hearing comes up on September 21.
It had been reported earlier that Abbas’ attorney, Louis Shapiro and U.S. officials sparred in court as he (Abbas) has been trying to delay his sentencing until November.
Shapiro had argued that 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.
But the prosecutors, led by Khaldoun Shobaki, insisted that there was no reason to “further delay the already long-delayed sentencing in this case,” seeing that Abbas admitted playing a leading role in the scheme when he pleaded guilty on April 20, 2021.
The prosecutors 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.
They also 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.
On the other hand, Abbas had previously tried to seek a release on humanitarian grounds, but Judge Otis D. Wright declined his pleas for failing to comply with extant court rules.
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