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.
Gal Pissetzky and Vicki Podberesky said Mr Abbass stopped communicating with them and has now retained new lawyers to defend him in the case.
The lawyers announced their decision after months of negotiations with the U.S. government, court documents
Earlier last June, the 37-year-old Nigerian, known for flaunting his opulent lifestyle on social media, was arrested in Dubai by special operatives, including Emirati police officers and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operatives.
He is alleged to be the leader of a mafia behind computer intrusion, business email compromise (BEC) fraud and money laundering. He duped his victims, who are majorly in the U.S, of hundreds of millions of dollars, the FBI said.
In the application dated January 21, Mr Pissetzky said:
“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 said the lack of communication has created a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship to the point where he believed that Mr Abbas deliberately chose to stop talking to them.
Mr Pissetzky also disclosed that he received a telephone call from Mr Abbas on January 21, informing him of the decision to retain a new counsel