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  • Updated: March 01, 2021

Hushpuppi Hires Former Government Lawyer As Defence Counsel

Nigerian Instagram celebrity facing fraud and money laundering related charges in the United States, Ramon Abass, better known as Hushpuppi, has hired Loius Shapiro, a top-rated criminal defence lawyer to represent him in his trial.

Hushpuppi's move follows the withdrawal of his former attorneys, a top Chicago lawyer, Gal Pissetzky and California-based criminal defence lawyer Vicki Podberesky from the case.

Recall that Pissetzky was initially hired to defend Hushpuppi but was later retained as a record counsel due to his transfer to Los Angeles and the lawyer’s inability to practise outside Chicago. As a result, Podberesky was hired as his local council.

In the application dated January 21, Pissetzky, who claimed to have been negotiating with the government over the case, said Hushpuppi suddenly stopped communicating with him.

“Since Mr Abbas’ arrest and arrival in the Central District of California, I have received voluminous discovery from the government and have been diligently reviewing it and investigating the allegations in this matter.

READ ALSO: Hushpuppi Implicated In North Korean Heist

“My communications with Mr Abbas are by telephone given my inability to fly from Chicago to Los Angeles due to the pandemic. Ms Podberesky, as local counsel, has made several visits to see Mr Abbas at the Santa Ana Jail and has also communicated with him by telephone,” he said.

Their request was, however, granted from the case on February 22, a request seeking the approval of Shapiro as Hushpuppi’s new defence counsel was granted on February 25.

It could be recalled that the 37-year-old known for flaunting his opulent lifestyle on social media, was arrested in Dubai in June 2020 by some special operatives including the Emirati police officers and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) investigation revealed that Huspuppi finances this extravagant lifestyle through crime.

According to the FBI, he is alleged to be the leader of a mafia that facilitated computer intrusion, Business Email Compromise (BEC) fraud and money laundering. His targeted victims, majorly in the U.S, have been duped hundreds of millions of dollars.

In July, Hushpuppi alongside Olalekan Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry, was extradited to Chicago in the United States where he was first arraigned.

READ ALSO: Hushpuppi's Trial Postponed Till 2021

However, because the U.S Court in Illinois does not have jurisdiction over the case, he was transferred to Los Angeles, a city in California, where his trial will commence in May.

At pretrial, he pleaded not guilty to the four counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

However, the chamber orders of Judge Otis Wright released September 23, 2020, the jury trial that was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue by 9 a.m. on May 4.

If convicted, Hushpuppi may spend the next 20 years in a U.S. prison.

Meanwhile, Shapiro who earned his law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law began his career with the New York State Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer.

He also worked at several agencies including the Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Detainee Unit and clerked for the federal public defenders' office in Los Angeles.

Shapiro, a certified criminal law specialist by the State Bar of California, serves as a Criminal Justice Act Federal Trial Panel attorney for the Central District of California.

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Adedayo Babatunde
Adedayo Babatunde

Adedayo Babatunde is a seasoned journalist and an enthusiastic organic writer, who is passionate abo...

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