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In SDNY On Crypto US Said No Plea Talks With Fowler, Now Trial Set For Feb 14, 2022

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon here Thread

SDNY COURTHOUSE, August 4 – Arizona based crypto-currency maven Reginald Fowler, with multiple accounts with the HSBC, appeared ready to plead guilty on January 15 to a single count, "operation of an unlicensed money transmittal business."

  After that fell through on financial issues, Fowler was hit with a five count Superseding Indictment, adding as a fifth count the catch-all, Wire Fraud. On March 5, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Andrew L. Carter emphasized this fifth count to Fowler, see below.

  On July 7, 2021 the US Attorney's Office wrote to Judge Carter and stated, "The parties are not currently engaged in plea negotiations and do not anticipate resuming negotiations. Full letter with schedule on Patreon here.

 On August 4, Judge Carter held a proceeding about the (still) February 14 tentative trial date. Inner City Press live tweeted it here:

Judge Andrew L. Carter: The parties have proposed a briefing schedule, and I'll sign off on it. They have requested a trial date in early February 2022. I can't guarantee the date, due to COVID. There's a committee in the Court, defendants in custody have priority

 Judge Carter: In December I can request Feb 14, then we'll know yes or no in January. Or we could try one mid April. I did a trial recently [Bob King, being sentenced on August 4, here ] In April, maybe I could do it in my own courtroom

 AUSA: US prefers February.  Defense: I stick to my agreements: February. But if it's April we're OK with that.  Judge Carter: We'd have to request that in March. But let's try for February 14, tentatively. I'll exclude Speedy Trial Act time.

 Defense: Our case would take 3 days. Judge Carter: Anything else? No. No. Adjourned.

Back on November 13, 2020 Fowler's lawyers asked to make a secret filing to withdraw. Inner City Press believe these is a public right to all or part of these filings, as recently advocated for and obtained regarding the financial filings of David Correia to Judge Oetken.

On December 22 in a related civil case, Fowler's lawyers Michael Hefter and Samuel Rackear asked to withdraw. (They also spoke darkly about press coverage and stories about Fowler's cases and requests). SDNY Judge Katherine Polk Failla said she had checked the docket in the criminal case before Judge Carter, but also could not see the redacted part.

 Judge Failla deferred ruling pending Hefter's submission of an ex parte letter, which was apparently filed on December 23. It did not go into the docket. But on December 28, the request was partially granted: "ORDER granting [159] Motion to Withdraw as Attorney. The Court is in receipt of the motion to withdraw filed by counsel for Defendant Reginald Fowler on December 11, 2020 (Dkt. #159), and counsel;s supplemental ex parte letter submitted to the Court on December 23, 2020. The Court has carefully reviewed the submissions and has heard from the parties regarding the pending motion to withdraw at a December 22, 2020 conference. Given: (i) counsel's work in this case to date with the contemporaneous knowledge they had when performing that work, and (ii) the timing of the motion to withdraw in the midst of the briefing schedule for Mr. Fowler's motion to dismiss, the Court provisionally grants the motion to withdraw, contingent on counsel's submission of Mr. Fowler's outstanding reply brief in further support of his motion to dismiss. Mr. Fowler's reply brief shall be due on or by January 19, 2021. Attorney Michael C. Hefter & Samuel Rackear terminated." Watch this site.

This civil case is In re Tether and Bitfinex Crypto Asset Litigation, 19-cr-9236 (Failla).

 On November 23, Judge Carter set in motion of processing of partial unsealing between Fowler's exiting lawyers and the US Attorney's Office.

Now on December 18 Judge Carter held another proceeding, allowing Fowler's lawyers to withdraw and postponing his trial indefinitely. Inner City Press live tweeted it, here:

AUSA: Mr. Fowler has been on notice. He should be required to retain counsel & keep to trial date.

Judge Carter: Mr. Fowler, I am allowing your counsel to withdraw. You could fill out a financial affidavit for court appointed counsel.

Fowler: I will seek a new one

 Fowler: I have used all my asset. I put my properties up for bail. I can't get a bank account. We don't have any income. We can't get to the assets. I want to find a firm that understands that.

 Fowler: If I have to, I'll come back and ask the court to help me find an attorney. I don't mind to sound disrespectful, sir. Judge Carter: It's fine. Given the holiday, I'll give you 45 days. Fowler: Yes sir, thank you.

Judge Carter: We are adjourned, to Feb 9. Judge Carter: It is unlikely a new counsel would be ready for trial in April. So I'm inclined to adjourn it, sine die. Mr Fowler: Thank you for your consideration, sir.

Judge Carter: We are adjourned.

Watch this site.

On October 23, Fowler's lawyers put in more about how they want money unfrozen to fund his defense (that is, themselves). They write: "We are counsel to Mr. Reginald Fowler in the above-referenced action, and we submit this letter jointly with the government to request a bail hearing during the week of October 26, 2020. At the October 15, 2020 status conference, we advised the Court that we had informed the government of our intention to request a modification of the defendant’s current bail conditions to allow him to fund his defense. The Court instructed the parties to file a joint status report on the bail application today. Unfortunately, the parties have been unable to reach an agreement. By way of summary, the defense seeks an adjustment of the May 8, 2019 letter (the “Letter”)(attached), endorsed by the Court, which served as the basis of Mr. Fowler’s release on bond with conditions. Among other elements, the Letter includes, as the fifth bail condition, that “[n]o new lines of credit without [Pretrial Services] approval” shall be issued to the defendant. The Letter also references the five properties that the government required the defendant to post as security for the $5 million personal recognizance bond. The defense requests modification of both of these items." Full letter on Patreon here.

From Oct 15: Fowler's lawyer wants a delay of January 2021 trial date. Cites Portugal, saying the COVID situation there is "worse that in the US."

Judge Carter: I think it makes sense to postpone the trial. We need one of the bigger rooms, my courtroom is not one. Let's make the January 11 trial date now just another telephone conference. "At once point there was almost a resolution..."

Judge Carter: It seemed that forfeiture was the sticking point at the time. Has there been any progress? The Court could deal with forfeiture without a jury trial. Any discussions?

Fowler's counsel: They superseded the indictment. All discussions stopped.

AUSA Seb Swett: It's true, since we superseded, no talks.

Judge Carter: Mr Fowler could plead to the indictment, without a deal with the government, and we deal with forfeiture separately. Any thoughts?

Fowler's lawyer: There was always a looming wire fraud count
AUSA Swett: We would request a new trial date be set, maybe three months out from January 11.  Fowler's lawyer: We'd like the discovery for the wire fraud count. I don't see why since there's not threat of violence they are holding back all the 302s

Judge Carter: I'm not going to order US to provide that information, at least at this time. Let's pick an April trial date. Monday, April 12. We'll see what happens.

Fowler's lawyer: We'd like the security for his bond to be released. He's had $258 million frozen

Fowler's lawyer: We'd like a hearing on that next week.

Judge Carter: Let's set a date next week for a filing of a joint status report. Oct 23. And then a hearing if we need one. I exclude time to April 12, 2021. Adjourned.

 Watch this site. More on Patreon here.

 Previously, at what was billed as a change of plea proceeding, Fowler acknowledged the section of the law to which he was pleading guilty to violating: 18 US Code Section 1960. Yes, he said.

  Judge Carter said, We are here for a change of plea, and there was no objection. Judge Carter read from a plea agreement that Fowler had signed. All was going according to plan, until the issue of $371 million in forfeiture came up.

  Now on February 14, it would seem the plea is entirely and and pre-TRIAL schedule set: "Re: United States v. Reginald Fowler, S1 19 Cr. 254 (ALC) Dear Judge Carter: The parties respectfully write to request that the Court enter a schedule for pretrial motions in the above-captioned matter. The parties propose that pretrial motions be filed by February 28, 2020, with oppositions due on March 13, 2020, and any replies due on March 20, 2020." Inner City Press will continue on this case, and all things crypto in the SDNY.

    This is a case Inner City Press will continue to follow. It is US v. Fowler, 19-cr-00254 (Carter).


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