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Riccardo ‘Fluffypony’ Spagni Hires Top Attorney to Battle Extradition to South Africa on Fraud Charges

Spagni has hired Brian Klein, a leading crypto trial attorney, to handle his case.

Aug 3, 2021 at 6:47 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:34 p.m. UTC

Former Monero maintainer Riccardo Spagni, who was arrested in Nashville, Tenn., on July 20 at the request of South African authorities, is fighting extradition with the help of one of crypto’s top lawyers, Brian Klein.

Spagni, known online as “Fluffypony,” has been accused of stealing approximately $100,000 from his former employer, Cape Cookies, by creating fake invoices and routing payment to his personal bank accounts between 2009-2011. 

South African officials issued a warrant for Spagni’s arrest in mid-April after he failed to show up for a trial in Cape Town, South Africa for the fraud charges. 

According to court documents, Spagni is being held without bond pending his extradition hearing, the date for which has not yet been set. 

Klein, who has previously represented big-name crypto clients including Erik Voorhees and Charlie Shrem, has filed a motion to allow Spagni to be released from custody on bail until his extradition hearing. 

In his motion, Klein claims the U.S. government has “misstated both the facts and the applicable law in this matter” and calls the case against Spagni “fatally flawed” due to a lack of evidence and a prosecution that has “stopped, started and meandered for over a decade.”

The motion disputes the U.S. government's claim that Spagni's offense carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, instead claiming that under South African law Spagni's alleged offenses are only punishable by up to 60 months in prison.

According to independent extradition expert and attorney Jacques Semmelman, however, the distinction makes no difference for Spagni's extradition.

"As long as the conduct is punishable in both countries by a year or more in prison, it is an extraditable offense," Semmelman told CoinDesk.

The motion also argues that Spagni has health conditions, including asthma, that make him more susceptible to severe illness or death from the Delta variant of COVID-19, and that necessitate his release from custody until his extradition hearing.

A hearing on Spagni’s request to be released on bond will take place Thursday morning.

DISCLOSURE

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