The United States Attorney’s Office at the Central District of California has postponed the sentencing of alleged international Internet fraudster Ramon Abbas, aka, Hushpuppi by five months.
The court’s Director of Media Relations, Thom Mrozek, in response to an email inquiry by The PUNCH late Thursday, said the date which was initially scheduled for Valentine’s Day, has been moved to July 11, 2022.
“The sentencing hearing that was scheduled for later this month has been delayed,” Mrozek told The PUNCH.
Court document sighted by The PUNCH showed that Judge Otis D. Wright in Los Angeles granted the order for postponement after Hushpuppi’s lawyers led by Louis Shapiro entered a request for postponement.
“At the request of counsel, the sentencing is continued to July 11, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. It is so ordered,” the document partly read.
Also, in a plea agreement document sighted by The PUNCH, Hushpuppi pleaded guilty to various offences bordering on internet scam and money laundering, among others.
It stated that Hushpuppi risks “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 offence”.
The court was, however, mum on its initial order that the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests the suspended Head of the Intelligence Response Team, DCP Abba Kyari, for his alleged role in a $1m scam allegedly perpetrated by Hushpuppi and five others.
The court declined comments on the warrant of arrest the court issued months earlier that the FBI should apprehend Kyari and other defendants in the case.
The Dubai Police in the United Arab Emirates had in June 2020 arrested Hushpuppi and his gang. They were later extradited to the US for prosecution by the FBI.
The FBI Special Agent, Andrew Innocenti, had alleged that Hushpuppi contracted the services of Kyari after a “co-conspirator,” Chibuzo Vincent, allegedly threatened to expose the alleged $1.1m fraud committed against a Qatari businessman.
Innocenti, who said he obtained voice calls and WhatsApp conversations between Kyari and Hushpuppi, had also alleged that the latter paid the police officer N8m or $20,600 for the arrest and detention of Vincent.
Kyari had taken to Facebook on July 29, 2021 to deny the allegations, but he later deleted the post after editing it about 12 times.
The IG had recommended the suspension of Kyari, which the PSC carried out on July 31, 2021.
The police boss had on August 2, 2021, constituted the Special Investigation Panel headed by the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department, Joseph Egbunike, to probe the allegations.
Egbunike on August 26, 2021 submitted the panel’s report, which he said “is an outcome of a painstaking, transparent and exhaustive investigative process.”
He revealed that the report contained the case file of the probe, evidence and findings as well as testimonies from Kyari and other persons and groups linked to the matter.
The Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, had on September 14, 2021, during a television interview said the findings and recommendations on Kyari had been submitted to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), for “legal opinion” and thereafter for presentation to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), adding that the final decision would be taken by the PSC.
But months later, the PSC spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, told our correspondent that the commission had not received any disciplinary recommendations from the IG through the Force Disciplinary Committee almost four months after the Egbunike panel submitted its report to the police boss.
The recommendations of the FDC will inform the commission’s decision and also determine Kyari’s future in the force, but the matter is now inconclusive.
The PUNCH had reported that Kyari, on Saturday, attended the wedding of Maina, son of the IGP, and splashed over 400 photos he took at the wedding on his verified Facebook page.