By Biodun Busari
A United States Central District Court in California has on Tuesday fixed the sentencing of Nigerian fraudster Ramon Abass known as Hushpuppi to September 21.
A Premium Times report stated that Judge Otis Wright has postponed Hushpuppi’s sentencing date for the second time.
“At the request of counsel, the Sentencing is CONTINUED to 9/21/2022 at 1:30 PM before Judge Otis D. Wright II, as to Defendant Ramon Olorunwa Abbas,” the court’s announcement made June 24 read.
Recall that Hushpuppi pleaded guilty in April 2021.
This was according to court documents by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) to the multi-million-dollar fraud charges filed against him by the United States government.
A version of Hushpuppi’s plea agreement filed in June revealed his part in a school finance scheme, as well as several other cyber and business email compromise schemes that aggregately caused more than $24 million in losses.
He pleaded guilty to Count Two which is “Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering.”
With such an offence, Hushpuppi risks a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment among other punishments including full restitution, his plea agreement with the U.S. government states in part.
Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison said Hushpuppi allegedly falsified the financing of a Qatari school by playing the roles of bank officials and creating a fake website in a scheme that also bribed a foreign official to keep the elaborate pretense going after the victim was tipped off.
Wilkison stated that Hushpuppi played “a significant role in the scheme, funded his luxurious lifestyle by laundering illicit proceeds generated by con artists who use increasingly sophisticated means.”
Hushpuppi was apprehended in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) in June 2020, and subsequently flown to the U.S., Hushpuppi pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2021 and was ordered to remain in custody pending sentencing.
The sentence hearing was initially moved by Judge Wright from February 14 to July 11 and has now been moved to September 21 at the counsel’s request.
He has been in custody since his arrest in Dubai and rendition to the U. S. in June 2020.
Hushpuppi thereafter entered into a plea bargain agreement with the U.S. government in July 2021, in the hope of getting a lighter punishment.
Despite pleading guilty, Hushpuppi will not be exempted from paying restitution.
“Defendant understands that the defendant will be required to pay full restitution to the victim(s) of the offence to which the defendant is pleading guilty,” the plea agreement read.
“Defendant agrees that, in return for the USAO’s compliance with its obligations under this agreement, the court may order restitution to persons other than the victim(s) of the offenses to which defendant is pleading guilty and in amounts greater than those alleged in the count to which defendant is pleading guilty.”
The prosecutor said the maximum penalty for the offence that Hushpuppi hopes will be reduced at his sentencing include “20 years’ imprisonment; a 3-year period of supervised release; a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, whichever is greatest; and a mandatory special assessment of $100.”