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Lawyers abandon suspected internet fraudster, Hushpuppi


The lawyers representing Ramon Abbas, aka Hushpuppi, in his trial for fraud and money laundering in the United States, have applied to withdraw from his case.

It was gathered that Gal Pissetzky and Vicki Podberesky stopped communicating with Hushpuppi as the latter has now retained new lawyers to defend him in the case.

It would be recalled that Hushpuppi, 37, who lived a flamboyant life on social media was arrested by the Emirati police officers and a team of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives in Dubai, in June 2020.

The FBI had alleged that his lifestyle was funded with proceeds of crime and that he led a mafia behind computer intrusion, business email compromise (BEC) fraud and money laundering.

Both Hushpuppi and his accomplice, Olalekan Ponle, popularly known as Woodberry, were extradited to Chicago in the United States where he was first arraigned.

Hushpuppi was later transferred to Los Angeles, a city in California in July 2020, where his trial will begin in May.

Mr Pissetzky, a top Chicago lawyer, was initially hired to defend the 37-year-old. But Hushpuppi was transferred to Los Angeles and his inability to practise outside Chicago, the lawyer was retained as a record counsel.

As a result, the alleged fraudster hired Ms Podberesky, a California-based criminal defence lawyer, as his local counsel.

However, documents obtained PREMIUM TIMES showed that Mr Pissetzky and Ms Podberesky, on January 21, 2021, filed a motion at the United States District Court in California to withdraw from representing Mr Abass.

Mr Pissetzky claimed that 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.

“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.

“I, through Ms. Podberesky, have provided Mr Abbas with a copy of the discovery, reviewed it with him, and had numerous conferences with Mr Abbas telephonically, and Ms Podberesky has also met with him in-person to discuss the case. We discussed with Mr Abbas the potential theories that might be available to him at trial, pre-trial motions, the sentencing guidelines and the potential of a plea agreement.

“After months of discussions with Mr. Abbas and negotiations with the government, Mr Abbas now refuses to effectively communicate with me.

“I have made numerous attempts through family and jail staff to have Mr Abbas call me to discuss critical issues. Mr Abbas, however, has not communicated with me. Both family and jail staff have told me that they have conveyed my messages to Mr Abbas to call me,” the lawyer stated.

He said the lack of communication has created a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship to the point that he believed Hushpuppi deliberately chose to stop talking to them.

However, on January 21, Mr Pissetzky said he received a telephone call from Hushpuppi, informing him of the decision to retain a new counsel.

“He informed me that he is retaining new counsel. I informed him that I and Ms. Podberesky were moving to withdraw given his refusal to communicate and cooperate with us,” the lawyer added.

The lawyers’ application for withdrawal will be heard by the court on February 22.

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