chief convict of Ramon Abbas, alias Hushpuppi, today, Monday, a court in the United States received letters asking for mercy on behalf of the confessed international fraudster.
Among the letters of impassioned plea for mercy for Hushpuppi are those of his wife, Regina Manneh, and two imams who wrote separately from Lagos and Borno states in the southwestern and northeastern regions of Nigeria. , respectively.
The letter from the imam of Imisi-Oluwa Mosque, Lagos, Rasaq Olopede, describes Hushpuppi as “a frequent donor” to the mosque.
In another letter, Hudu Abdulrasak of Madrasatul Ahlul-Bait Islamiya, Maiduguri, Borno State also paid a warm tribute to Hushpuppi for his philanthropic gestures towards the orphan, widow and others in need. .
They said the former Instagram celebrity, described by the US government as a competent cyber fraudster, was remorseful and would be of good character after his release.
The addresses of the authors, including Hushpuppi’s wife, are redacted in copies of the letters obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday.
The letters were dropped off at United States District Court for the Central District of California on November 4 in support of Huspuppi’s earlier plea for a light sentence.
Forty-year-old Hushpuppi had personally sent a handwritten letter to the judge, Otis Wright, assuring that he was a changed person and promising make a full refund beyond the benefits he derived from the crimes, to the victims.
Charges, guilty plea, clemency
ushpuppi was arrested in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and flown to the United States in June 2020 to face charges of multi-million dollar fraudulent schemes including “cyber bank heists”.
US authorities said Hushpuppi and his conspirators, through extensive cyber fraud, targeted multiple victims, including a bank in Malta, a law firm in New York, two companies in the UK and a businessman in Qatar.
Hushpuppi, who initially denied the charges, turned around to reach a plea bargain deal with US authorities in July 2021, hoping to obtain a light sentence.
He confessed to conspiring with several people inside and outside the United States to launder the proceeds of the fraudulent scheme perpetrated against people and businesses in different countries.
The offense typically carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, among other penalties, including full restitution
The U.S. government, in its pre-conviction documents, pushed to at least 11 years in prison for him.
But, in his plea for clemency, Hushpuppi, without suggesting to the judge any number of years in prison, pleaded for a sentence “to a term of imprisonment below the calculated range dictated by law.”
The court has since received a flurry of letters to the judge from Hushpuppi’s family and religious circles, also begging for mercy on his behalf.
The Woman’s Call for Mercy
In her undated letter asking for mercy on behalf of her husband, Regina Manneh, who is the mother of Hushpuppi’s youngest child, said her absence from home had left a void in the family.
Ms Manneh is believed to have lived with Hushpuppi and their son, Raymond, in Dubai. Hushpuppi’s two eldest children live with their estranged mothers in the United States and United Kingdom (UK).
Ms Manneh said she and her four-year-old son were visiting to see relatives in Sweden when Hushpuppi was arrested in June 2020.
“When I heard about his arrest my son and I were in Sweden visiting family. Unfortunately there was a lockdown due to Covid and before we returned to Dubai he had already been extradited to the United States, so Raymond had no chance of seeing his father,” she wrote.
In her impassioned letter which is believed to have been sent to the judge in October, she described Hushpuppi as “a very active father” who her son spent a lot of time with going out and doing activities including watching movies.
Hushpuppi’s incarceration, she said, “had a huge impact on us as a family, but especially on our 4-year-old son.”
Ms Manneh, who said she was heartbroken by the turn of events, noted that Raymond “constantly asks where his father is”.
“As a mother, it breaks my heart for my son because he is at an age where he is aware of things and his father is not with him physically.
She said that whenever Raymond had the opportunity to video call his dad, “he constantly asks his dad if he’s on his way.”
“Usually after the call ends, Raymond gets emotional and hugs me. And all I can do is offer emotional support to my son who is having a hard time dealing with his feelings in these times. difficult,” said the mother.
She said her plea for mercy for Hushpuppi was not just for herself, but “for my son and his family”.
She said Hushpuppi’s entire family depended on him financially and emotionally.
“Not having Ramon here has left a void in Raymond that saddens me,” she said.
She said she had to start working overtime “in order to be able to pay for our child’s school fees and needs, which was a difficult task”.
“Ramon is a man who loves his family and would do anything for them. He is not perfect, but he is a good man who has made mistakes and taken responsibility. I beg this court to have mercy on him not only for me but for his children,” she wrote.
The supplications of the imams
Two Islamic clerics in their separate letters painted a portrait of Hushpuppi as a good, loving and generous man, whose criminal conduct alleged in the charges against him came as a brutal shock to them.
Mr. Olopede of Madrasat Ridwanu L’Hai-L-Arobiyat Wal Islamiyat, Imisi-Oluwa Mosque, said in his October 8 letter that he had known Hushpuppi for 15 years as a frequent donor to the mosque.
In his separate letter dated October 4, Mr Abdulrasak of Madrasatul Ahlul-Basit Islamiya in Maiduguri Borno state described Hushpuppi as a true philanthropist, although the cleric did not say how long he had been there. knew him.
Hushpuppi, a Muslim, was born and raised in Lagos before his stay in Malaysia and then Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he was arrested and flown to the United States in June 2020.
Its possible connection with the Lagos mosque is therefore understandable.
But his account of his personal history detailed in his court documents gave no indication of how he might have been linked to the community of Maiduguri, Borno State.
Still, Mr Abdulrasak said Hushpuppi was known to his congregation in Maiduguri as a man who had “helped many in our community”.
Among Hushpuppi’s philanthropic gestures, according to the cleric, were providing a borehole and water well, paying school fees, feeding programs and assisting the needy, widows and orphans “repeatedly”.
“We hereby implore and request your honor to please consider the foregoing when tempering justice,” he wrote.
Also attesting to Hushpupi’s kind-heartedness for which he was known in the Lagos Mosque, Mr Olopede said the accused ‘made himself a willing and available example of hard work and humility for the teenagers of its immediate vicinity.
He said the accused provided leadership and mentorship to friends and seniors, even as he sought direction for his own life.
“Ramon usually contributed his share in everything related to the mosque, he offered financial support whenever the mosque organized events,” the cleric wrote.
He said that Hushpuppi had, at different times, donated to the mosque and purchased a generator for the mosque.
He added that Hushpuppi’s involvement in criminal activity “came as a brutal shock”.
“It was surprising that a promising young individual with a terrific attitude towards work could do something shady,” he added.
The cleric said he understood the “enormity of the crime” committed by Hushpuppi, but called on the judge “to bring up the emotional part of you and beg you to temper justice with mercy”.
He noted that he was told how “cooperative and well-mannered” Hushpuppi had been during this trial.
“I hope the remorse he has shown over the past few years makes this a valid appeal for a reduced sentence,” he added.
Of Nigeria’s many national challenges, which do you think the next president should focus on first?
— Premium Times (@PremiumTimesng) October 5, 2022
Support the integrity and credibility journalism of PREMIUM TIMES
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can guarantee the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy and a transparent government.
For free and continued access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask that you consider providing modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you help sustain relevant journalism and keep it free and accessible to everyone.
Make a donation
ANNOUNCEMENT TEXT: Call Willie – +2348098788999