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Crime Watch / North America

US court: Hushpuppi’s sentencing postponed again

US court: Hushpuppi’s sentencing postponed again

The United States District Court for the Central District of California has again postponed the sentencing of a Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abass, also known as Hushpuppi, for the multi-million-dollar fraud charges to which he has pleaded guilty.

Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE), in June 2020 and flown to the United States, where he pleaded guilty to the charges in July 2021 and was ordered to remain in custody pending sentencing.

Judge Otis Wright has set the new sentencing date for September 21.

“At counsel’s request, 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 announced on June 24.

Judge Wright moved the sentence hearing from February 14 to July 11 and has now moved it to September 21 at the request of counsel.

Mr. Abass agreed to plead guilty to multi-million dollar fraud charges brought by the US government in July 2021.

He has been detained since his arrest in Dubai and extradition to the United States in June 2020.

After initially claiming innocence, Mr Abass changed his mind and agreed to a plea bargain with the US government in July 2021 in the hopes of receiving a lighter sentence.

He pleaded guilty to Count Two, “Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering,” an offence that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, among other penalties, including full restitution, according to his plea agreement with the US government.

Mr. Abass will not be exempt from paying restitution despite his guilty plea.

“Defendant understands that he will be required to pay full restitution to the victim(s) of the offence for which he is pleading guilty.”

“Defendant agrees that, in exchange for the USAO’s compliance with its obligations under this agreement,” the plea agreement seen by PREMIUM TIMES in July 2021 read, “the court may order restitution to persons other than the victim(s) of the offences to which defendant is pleading guilty and in amounts greater than those alleged in the count to which defendant is pleading guilty.”

Mr. Abass’s exact sentence has yet to be determined. However, the prosecution recommends “a two-level reduction in the applicable Sentencing Guidelines offence level” if Mr Abass “demonstrates an acceptance of responsibility for the offence up to and including the time of sentencing.”

RAMON OLORUNWA ABBAS, aka “Ray Hushpuppi,” [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Instagram account of Hushpuppi]

RAMON OLORUNWA ABBAS, aka “Ray Hushpuppi,” before he was arrested by the US authorities and charged for fraud

“If necessary,” the prosecution continues, it may “move for an additional one-level reduction if available under that provision.”

Also read: Top Nigerian cop held amid drug cartel claim

“If necessary,” the prosecution continues, “it may move for an additional one-level reduction under that section.”

Because he is not an American citizen, he will be deported after serving his sentence and paying the restitution amount.

Mr Abass hopes that the maximum penalty for the offence will be reduced at his sentencing: “20 years’ imprisonment; a three-year period of supervised release; a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offence, whichever is greater; and a mandatory special assessment of $100.”

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