Popular Instagram celebrity, Ramon Abbas popularly known as “Hushpuppi“ has been arraigned in a court in California, United States, ahead of his trial on October 13.
Mr Ramon Abbas pleaded not guilty to the four-count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
In June, Mr Ramon Abbas known for flaunting an opulent lifestyle on social media, was arrested in Dubai by special operatives of the Emerati police and American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The 37-year-old Nigerian man accused of being the leader of a group that facilitates computer intrusion, business email compromise (BEC) fraud and money laundering pleaded not guilty to the four-count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering conspiracies, international money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.
Hushpuppi reportedly entered a plea, insisting that he is not guilty of the charges. The Instagram celebrity will be represented in court by Vicki Podberesky, a top-rated lawyer in California and Gal Pissetzky, a Chicago-based lawyer appearing pro hac vice because he is not licensed to practise outside Chicago.
It was also learnt that Hushpuppi pleaded that he should be prosecuted with complaint and not indictment.
On the other hand, to obtain an indictment, a prosecutor must present proposed charges to a grand jury – a body of jurors that investigates crimes and decides whether charges should be filed.
His decision to opt for complaint might be borne out of the criticism that the grand jury is easily manipulated by the prosecutor, undermining its objectivity and fairness.
In July, Mr Abbas alongside Olalekan Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry, was extradited to Chicago in the United States where he was first arraigned.
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.
Since Ramon Abbas transfer to California late July, he has been held in the custody of the U.S. Marshal in a federal prison.
If convicted, the one-time Instagram sensation may spend the next 20 years in the U.S federal prison.