Hushpuppi pleads guilty to fraud charges, faces 20years Imprisonment

Nigerian Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abass, finally pleads guilty to the multi-million-dollar fraud charges filed against him by the United States government and looks at spending a maximum of 20years imprisonment.

Back in June 2020, Hushpuppi was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and subsequently extradited to the U.S. where most of the victims of his alleged fraudulent activities are based. Hushpuppi spent the last one year in custody maintaining his innocence.

However, with the commencement of his trial around the corner, Hushpuppi entered into a plea agreement with the U.S. government in the hope of getting a lighter punishment.

He is pleading guilty to Count Two which is “Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering,” an offence that attracts a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment among other punishments including full restitution, as stated in his plea agreement.

Mr Abass was also said to have admitted involvement in a scheme to defraud a victim company in Qatar that was building an international school (the Qatari Victim Company) and the owner of that company. He was also said to have in December 2019, begun conspiring with a co-conspirator to defraud the owner of the Qatari company “who was seeking a lender to invest $15,000,000 in a project to build an international school”.

Other terms of the agreement include the defendant’s concession to not contest facts agreed to in the agreement. He is also expected to truthful at all times with the United States probation and pretrial services office and the court. Also listed as part of the terms of the agreement is Hushpuppi’s concession not to commit crime again, the list goes on. Despite pleading guilty, Mr Abass will not be exempted from paying full restitution to the victim(s) of the offence to which defendant is pleading guilty.

He however agreed to “abide by all agreements regarding sentencing contained in this agreement.”He concedes that “all court appearances, including his change of plea hearing and sentencing hearing, may proceed by video-teleconference (VTC) or telephone, if VTC is not reasonably available, so long as such appearances are authorized by Order of the Chief Judge 20-043 or another order, rule, or statute”.  

The exact sentence to be imposed on Mr Abass was not agreed on but the prosecution said it recommends “a two-level reduction in the applicable Sentencing Guidelines offence level”. “If necessary,” the prosecution adds, it may “move for an additional one-level reduction if available under that section.”

Since Hushpuppi is not an American citizen, he will be deported after completing his jail term and paying up the amount to be restituted. The maximum penalty for the offence which Mr Abass pleads guilty 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.”

A date is to be fixed for Mr Abass to change his previous “not guilty” plea to “guilty” and will be followed by a sentencing hearing for the judge to determine how long he will spend in jail.

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