Gal Pissetzky, the Chicago lawyer representing Hushpuppi, a Nigerian Instagram personality, who is facing cyberfraud allegations in the US, has denied dumping his client ahead of his California trial.
The self-acclaimed influencer, whose real name is Ramon Igbalode, had been arraigned in Chicago on money laundering charges following his arrest in Dubai and subsequent extradition to the US.
He had also hired the top lawyer who immediately took up his defense.
Hushpuppi was however denied bail in a Chicago hearing, with a judge ruling that he would remain detained until his trial later this year.
On Friday, Premium Times reported that the suspected cybercriminal had refused to retain Pissetzky as his attorney, requesting that a court-appointed counsel be assigned to him.
The news outlet said the development came after documents showed that Igbalode case had been transferred to the central district of California for prosecution.
The transfer had come after the US government orally renewed its motion for removal in custody and the motion was granted during the detention hearing on Monday.
“Accordingly, Defendant is ordered removed to the Central District of California in the custody of the U.S. Marshal forthwith,” the court ruled after which the defendant was moved on Tuesday.
“As provided by 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f), the defendant is remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal and shall remain in custody until further order of the Court.”
However, dismissing reports that he was dumped by Hushpuppi over the transfer, Pissetzky told Punch he would still stand for the accused celebrity in California, where the case was moved to.
“I am still representing him. I will be in California for the case. Our legal system is quite different from yours,” the US lawyer was quoted to have said.
“That he was denied bail does not mean his case is getting worse. Actually, I think it’s getting better. I am not, however, allowed to comment on the facts of the case.
“There is no new evidence put forward by the FBI at this point. Whatever news report that suggests things are getting worse for him is not true.”
The self-acclaimed influencer is said to have conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars from business email compromise (BEC) frauds and other scams, one for which he could get a maximum jail term of 20 years if convicted.
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