Huspuppi: Abba Kyari’s alleged co-conspirator pleads guilty, sentencing fixed for today

 


Barring any last minute change, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California will, on Monday, sentence a co-conspirator who has pleaded guilty to a $1.1million fraud case involving Abba Kyari, a suspended Nigerian deputy commissioner of police.

A new court document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES shows how Yusuf Anifowoshe, who is of Nigerian descent, changed his earlier “not guilty” plea to “guilty” in February, while the American government pursues Mr Kyari’s extradition to the U.S. to face trial.

The U.S. government had unveiled the charges in July last year, accusing all six defendants, including Messers Anifowoshe and Kyari, of playing different roles in the $1.1million fraudulent scheme led by Ramon Abass, also known as Hushpuppi, a former Nigerian Instagram celebrity.

Hushpuppi, who was prosecuted separately before the same court, has since pleaded guilty to the charges including the $1.1 million fraud, and is now awaiting sentencing on September 21.

The six co-defendants in the case involving Mr Kyari were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and identity fraud, last year.

But only three of the co-defendants, including Mr Anifowoshe, who are based in the U.S., have appeared in court for the case.

The three persons, all of whom are Nigerian descents – Mr Anifowose, Rukayat Fashola (aka Morayo) and Bolatito Agbabiaka (aka Bolamide) – had pleaded not guilty to the charges and been released from custody on bail.

The three others based outside the U.S. – Mr Kyari, Abdulrahman Juma, and Kelly Chibuzo Vincent – “remain at large”, the U.S. prosecuting authorities have said.


The court, in March, rescheduled trial the case to October 11, 2022.

But before the rescheduling of trial, Mr Anifowoshe had, earlier in February, changed his initial “not guilty” plea to “guilty”, and the judge, Otis Wright, subsequently fixed July 18, 2022 (today) for his sentencing.

“The Court refers the defendant to the Probation Office for the preparation of a presentence report and continues the matter to July 18, 2022 at 10:00 a.m., for sentencing,” the minutes of the February 14, 2022 change of plea proceedings read in part.

The judge said other dates scheduled for things other than sentencing would not be applicable to the defendant who had pleaded guilty.

“All dates other than the sentencing hearing date are vacated as to this defendant,” the court document read.

How co-conspirator pleaded guilty

The minutes of the change of plea proceedings obtained by PREMIUM TIMES shows that Mr Anifowoshe agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering which is Count Two of the three charges.

Mr Anifowoshe, his lawyer, Carel Ale, and the U.S. government’s lawyer, Khaldoun Shobaki, were present at the proceedings as indicated in the minutes of the hearing.

“Defendant moves to change his plea to the Indictment. Defendant now enters a new and different plea of Guilty to Count Two of the Indictment.

“The Court questions the defendant regarding the plea of Guilty and finds a factual and legal basis for the plea; waivers of constitutional rights are freely, voluntarily and intelligently made; plea is provident; plea is accepted and entered,” the document read in part.

Abba Kyari’s extradition

The court had ordered the arrests of Mr Kyari and the two others who were outside the U.S and had yet to appear for the trial.

U.S. authorities had subsequently requested the Nigerian government to surrender Mr Kyari for trial in the court in California.


Following the request by the U.S. government, Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubaka Malami, instituted extradition proceedings against Mr Kyari at the Federal High Court in Abuja earlier in the year.

The court, after taking closing arguments of the government’s and Mr Kyari’s legal teams, fixed August 29 to deliver its decision on the extradition request.

But apart from the extradition proceedings, Mr Kyari also faces ongoing criminal trial before another judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja on charges of drugs trafficking.

Mr Anifowoshe’s change of plea is similar to how two Mr Kyari’s co-defendants in the narcotics related trial in Nigerian have pleaded guilty and jailed by the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Charges

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in court documents released in July last year that all six defendants including Mr Kyari, were co-conspirators in the $1.1 million fraud coordinated by Hushpuppi, a former Nigerian Instagram celebrity.

A Qatari businessperson was the victim of the scheme perpetrated between November 2019 and April 2020, the FBI had said.

Mr Kyari, a deputy commissioner of police, allegedly played a role in the scam by helping Hushpuppi to detain a disenchanted co-conspirator who wanted to warn the victim businessperson about the scam.

He and his co-defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and aggravated identity theft.

Hushpuppi has pleaded guilty to various fraud activities, including the $1.1 million scheme in another case before the U.S. district court in Central California. He is now awaiting sentencing on September 21 this year.

He was arrested in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, in June 2020, and flown to the U.S. for trial.


Source : Premium Times 

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