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In OneCoin Case Inner City Press Gets Armenta Guilty Plea Belatedly Unsealed But Redacted

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - The Source 

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Aug 13 –  As Inner City Press covered the OneCoin trial in October 2019, a number of names of indicted co-conspirators emerged on which we followed up.

  One of them was Gilbert Armenta, who  recorded Ruja Ignatova. Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York for more information; it continues even now to withhold the exhibits it flashed on the screen at trial. Inner City Press had to file a FOIA request; the Department of Justice denies expedited processing.

Now we can report this: the US Attorney's Office gave Armenta his own secret docket number and kept it sealed for three years, until AFTER Inner City Press exclusively reported on Armenta's continuing dubious business activities even while a "cooperator." The case was initially assigned to SDNY Judge Willian H. Pauley III, then moved to Judge Edgardo Ramos - who to his credit has now put an end to continued extensions, and set a sentencing date for October 21, 2020. The unsealed indictment is now on Patreon here.

 But as Inner City Press looked into it more, documents that were supposed to be unsealed were not. In some cases they were not even docketed. So Inner City Press wrote to Judge Ramos, full letter on Patreon here: "Dear Judge Ramos:     On behalf of Inner City Press and in my personal journalistic capacity, this is an application for compliance with this Court's April 29, 2020 Memo Endorsement, Docket No. 10 to docket and unseal materials in US v. Armenta, 17-cr-556 (ER).   While Docket No. 10 has a full paragraph and one or more footnotes redacted, it clearly provides for the docketing and unsealing of, inter alia, "the initial pretrial conference before the Honorable William H. Pauley III, held on September 27, 2017" and "the bail proceeding held before this Court on March 25, 2020."    

But the docket, viewed today on the PACER terminal in the SDNY Press Room, still has nothing from March 25, 2020. In fact, it has nothing between January 17, 2020 (Notice of Case Reassignment) and April 29, 2020.    Similarly, there is nothing in the docket from September 27, 2017. Docket Number 14 says that it is a transcript of a proceeding of that date before Judge Pauley and that "transcript may be viewed at the court public terminal." But even today, the number "14" is not a live link, and the transcript is not available.  Non-parties such as Inner City Press and myself have standing to intervene in criminal proceedings to assert the public’s right of access. United States v. Aref, 533 F.3d 72, 81 (2d Cir. 2008).  Here, the sealing(s) and withholding here are unacceptable, and go beyond those requested even in the Central Intelligence Agency trial before Judge Crotty, US v. Schulte, 17 Cr. 548.     In that case, Inner City Press vindicated the public's right to know, in the docket, see here and here.

Inner City Press recently got even more sensitive filings unsealed in a North Korea sanctions case before Judge Castel, US v. Griffith, 20-cr-15 (PKC), Docket No. 33 (LETTER by EMAIL as to Virgil Griffith addressed to Judge P. Kevin Castel from Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press, dated 5/18/2020, re: Press Access to documents in US v. Griffith, 20-cr-15), 40 (order to unseal) and 41 unsealed filings).      Inner City Press and I have been closely covering the OneCoin / Mark Scott / Sebastian Greenwood case(s) and ask that the above documents, and all else in these cases that is not subject to withholding under applicable case law be made available, and that this request itself be docketed. It is being copied to the AUSAs whose redacted April 22, 2020 letter, as endorsed, provided for this docketing and unsealing, not yet actually done as of August 13, 2020."

   Some hours later, without Inner City Press' application being docketed, Docket 14 went live - the guilty plea transcript, but still with redactions. Here was Armenta's allocution, withheld until today, to the detriment of the public: THE COURT: Mr Armenta, please tell me what you did in connection with each of the crimes to which you're entering a plea of guilty.

ARMENTA: "One Count One, in 2015, I began doing business with OneCoin, through my company. I came to understand that OneCoin was making false statements in order to get people to purchase OneCoin packages or prevent people who had purchased these packages to seek their money back. After knowing this, I continue to do things to assist OneCoin's business, such as by coordinating the opening up of new accounts for OneCoin to receive customers' funds, international wires were used in connection with this activity, and including the transfer of money through corresponding bank accounts in New York."  More on Patreon here.

Here are the Armenta business moves Inner City Press exclusively reported on December 1, 2019, here:

  ESOL B.V. LLC was incorporated on July 8, 2019; the manager is Gilbert Armenta and the agent is Giselle Valentin, both of 500 E. Broward Boulevard, PH 2, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394. See here. And here.

   Armenta's Tblisi, Georgia-based money laundering bank JSC Capital Bank had as its parent a company of exactly this name. See KPMG review of Georgia banking sector here. More on Armenta's ongoing companies on Patreon here.

  Inner City Press asked, on December 1, 2019: Is the US Attorney's Office allowing its cooperator to keep on money laundering? Or looking the other way while whatever cooperation agreement exists is openly violated?
Perhaps these and other quesitons will be answered in connection with Armenta's sentencing in the too long seal case against him. Watch this site.

More on Patreon here.


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