The United States authorities plan to sell 152 bitcoins seized from internet fraudster Olalekan Jacob Ponle, or Mr Woodberry, following his guilty plea to $8 million wire fraud.
A document filed Friday at the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Illinois regarding Mr Woodberry’s forfeiture order said the U.S. Marshal Service will now take custody of the seized crypto assets for disposition.
This also followed Mr Woodberry’s agreement to forfeit all proceeds of the wire fraud, which he committed using the name ‘Mark Kain’, by recruiting at least four money mules while he resided in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He was arrested by law enforcement officers in Dubai and later handed over to. the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2020. He was promptly transferred to Chicago, where he has been standing trial.
The federal authorities called on interested persons to file a claim for the property within 30 days and register with valid documents, saying they would “provide written notice to any person known to have alleged an interest in the property that is the subject of the preliminary order of forfeiture.”
If nobody comes forward to claim ownership of the seized assets, American prosecutors said they would proceed to advertise their sale.
“The United States shall publish notice of this order and of its intent to dispose of the property,” the federal authorities said in the motion filed by Morris Pasqual, an acting U.S. attorney overseeing the case.
It added, “The United States requests that the terms and conditions of this preliminary order of forfeiture entered by this court be made part of the sentence imposed against defendant Olalekan Jacob Ponle and included in any judgment and commitment order entered in this case against him.”
On June 29, federal prosecutors asked a judge to sentence Mr Woodberry 14 years’ imprisonment for the fraud he committed between January and September 2019.
The prosecutors also recommended that Mr Woodberry, known for flaunting his flamboyant lifestyle on social media, forfeit items in the Dubai police custody, such as one Rolls Royce, Lamborghini Urus, Mercedes-Benz G-Class AMG G55, four Rolex watches, one Patek Philippe watch, and three Audemars Piguet watches.
Also, he is to forfeit three gold and diamond-studded rings, five gold bracelets and two gold bracelet keys, six gold neck chains, one gold and diamond-studded necklace, one small gold nugget, two bank cards, about $1,835 in Emirati dirhams, and approximately $15.45 in South African rands.
Mr Woodberry was arrested on June 10, 2020, alongside Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas, who was jailed late last year for 11 years in the U.S. for internet fraud.