A New York court has provisionally granted the motion to withdraw filed by the legal team of embattled former NFL player Reginald Fowler. The lawyers claimed that Fowler owed them $600,000 in unpaid dues.
Fowler, who is a former minority owner of the NFL franchise Minnesota Vikings, has been embroiled in a legal battle for months over his involvement in the Crypto Capital/Bitfinex case. U.S. prosecutors accuse Fowler and his partner Ravid Yosef of running a shadow banking ring that serviced some major digital currency businesses. The most renowned of these is Bitfinex, and its sister company Tether, which are fighting a court case themselves over the disappearance of $850 million.
As CoinGeek reported, Fowler’s lawyers claimed that he has been evading paying their fees. Since the case started two years ago, Fowler has allegedly only paid his lawyers $25,000. The lawyers claim that he has been misleading them regarding his financial status since then.
Judge Katherine Polk Failla of the Southern District of New York has now granted the lawyers’ motion to withdraw.
In her ruling, Judge Failla noted that the provisional grant is as a result “of the timing of the lawyer’s motion to withdraw in the midst of the briefing schedule for Mr. Fowler’s motion to dismiss.”
She added, “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.
In a hearing on the motion to withdraw a week ago, Fowler admitted that he is unable to pay his legal team. As Inner City Press reports, he told Judge Failla:
“I have used all my assets. 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. If I have to, I’ll come back and ask the court to help me find an attorney.”
Earlier this year, Fowler agreed to enter a guilty plea for his alleged role in the illegal money-transmitting business. However, just a month later, he rejected the plea deal after learning that he would have to part with $371 million he held in over 50 bank accounts.
Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to Binance, Bitcoin.com, Blockstream, ShapeShift and Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.
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