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Why Hushpuppi agreed to plead guilty to US charges

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RAMON Abbas also known as Hushpuppi has signed an agreement with the United States government to plead guilty to one of the charges levelled against him. Here is why the suspect agreed to the plea after initially pleading not guilty months ago.

Despite his initial not-guilty plead,   Hushpuppi according to a document seen by The ICIR has entered into an agreement with the US to plead guilty to ‘conspiracy to engage in money laundering’, one of the charges against him.

The suspect signed the document in the presence of Assistant United States Attorney Anil J Antony, and Hushpuppi’s counsel Louis J Shapiro on April 7, 2021.

In the US, an individual found guilty of conspiracy to engage in money laundering could be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500,000 conspiracy to engage in money laundering.


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However, following the agreement between the US government and Hushpuppi, the latter’s sentence could be reduced.

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The agreement read that provided Hushpuppi demonstrated an acceptance of responsibility for the offence up to and including the time of sentencing, it would recommend a ‘two-level reduction in the applicable Sentencing Guidelines offence level’.

The agreement also read that if necessary, the prosecution could ‘move for an additional one-level reduction if available under that section.

A specific year of the sentence was not contained in the agreement.

Price to pay

The deal offered to Hushpuppi did not come at no expense as there are other critical obligations expected of the suspect.

In the agreement, by pleading guilty to conspiracy to engage in money laundering before the court, Hushpuppi would no longer have the rights to a counsel, or if possible, have the court appoint counsel.

He would also be required to pay full restitution to the victim(s) of the offence to which he pleaded guilty.

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Beyond that, the court may also order that restitution be paid to other than victims of the offences he had pleaded guilty to and in amounts greater than stipulated in his guilty plea.

The Nigerian gave up his right for a speedy and public trial by jury and the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses presented by the US government against him.

He also gave up the right to be presumed innocent or to place the burden of proof on the US government.

He further agreed that all court appearances, including his change of plea bargain and a sentencing bargain, could proceed on Video Teleconference or telephone.

His counsel, Shapiro, confirmed to the BBC that the document was genuine but refused to comment further on the case.

Hushpuppi was arrested in June 2020 by Dubai Police in United Arab Emirates (UAE) before he was eventually repatriated to the US where he is currently facing criminal charges.

 

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Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

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