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In SDNY Crypto Currency Case Reginald Fowler Says Arraignment March 5 Judge Says May 5

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon here

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Feb 29 – A 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."

  Now, after that fell through on financial issues, Fowler has been hit with a five count Superseding Indictment: Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, substantive Bank Fraud and Conspiracy to Operate an Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business and substantive Operation of an Unlicensed Money Transmitting Business, along with the catch-all, Wire Fraud. The government is seeking the forfeiture of money seized from HSBC bank accounts on October 23 and November 16, 2018. Call it hard ball - including, now, not agreeing to any extension of the trial.

  But there is a strange incongruity. The defense says the arraignment on the superseding indictment is March 5, but this is Judge Carter's Order: "Set/Reset Hearings as to Reginald Fowler: Arraignment set for 5/5/2020 at 11:00 AM before Judge Andrew L. Carter Jr. (jbo)." That's May 5 - after the scheduled beginning of the trial. What gives?

 On February 26 the US Attorney's Office wrote to Judge Carter: "Dear Judge Carter:  The parties have conferred following the return of Superseding Indictment S3 19 Cr. 254, and write to respectfully request that the matter be set for arraignment on May 5, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. Prior to making this request, the Government conferred with chambers to confirm the Court’s availability.  The Government further notes that at the time of arraignment, defense counsel has advised it will request an adjournment of the trial date in this matter, which is presently set to begin on April 28, 2020. The Government opposes the adjournment; thus, the parties anticipate addressing the issue before the Court at the time set for the arraignment." It seems the May 5 may mean March 5....  Inner City Press will continue to follow the case. 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.

   On February 5, Judge Carter "so ordered" the unsealing an Order about assets in three accounts at Santander UK PLC. But as of 10 pm on February 5, the Order was still not unsealed on PACER. Watch this site.
From the full transcript Inner City Press obtained access to on February 3:

AUSA Swett: "Your Honor, we're not in a position to represent that these accounts have $371 million, nor did we ever communicate that to defense counsel... I think 15 minutes to discuss this with defense counsel might be beneficial."

  But when they returned, Judge Carter brought up his (his wife's) JPMorgan Chase possible conflict of interest (she now works at Bank of New York). Fowler's attorney McGovern said, "Our issue is how much actual exposure under the forfeiture order after the accounts are liquidated Mr. Fowler is looking at." Hence, now a trial date. And this letter from the prosecutors:

"On Thursday, Mr. Fowler rejected the current plea offer, and the Government has formally withdrawn that offer; thus, the parties anticipate the case proceeding to trial as scheduled on April 28, 2020. Although the Court set a schedule for motions in limine in advance of trial, a motion schedule for general pretrial motions has not been set; thus, the parties will confer and submit a joint letter within the next week proposing a schedule for the Court’s consideration."

"Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr.: Pretrial Conference as to (19-Cr-254-01) Reginald Fowler held on 1/17/2020. Defendant Reginald Fowler appears with attorneys James Mc Govern and Nat Rosenblum. AUSA Jessica Fender, AUSA Sebastian Swett and AUSA Samuel Rothschild for the Government. Joint Status Report due 1/31/20. Motions in Limine Due: 4/14/20. Responses Due: 4/21/20. Voir Dire & Proposed Jury Instructions Due: 4/14/20. Final Pre-Trial Conference 4/27/20 at 12:00 p.m. Jury Selection & Trial 4/28/20 at 9:30 a.m. Time excluded from 1/17/20 to 4/28/20 in the interest of justice. All bail conditions remain in effect. See transcript for complete details. Court Reporter: Raquel Robles."

Fowler "Change of
                                            Plea Proceeding" Jan
                                            17, 2020 PACER

 Back on May 15 Fowler had entered not guilty pleas to four felony counts on in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York courtroom of Judge Andrew L. Carter. 

   While the indictment, initially under seal, refers to Bank-1, the forfeiture allegations specify two HSBC Bank USA Accounts including 141000147, an HSBC Security USA account and two HSBC Securities USA / Pershing LLC accounts. Given the Justice Department's history with HSBC, for example on the bank's money laundering for drug gangs, some wonder why HSBC was not indicted. This is a case Inner City Press will continue to follow, through sentencing and beyond.


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