The criminal trial for Joshua Nicholas’ EmpiresX is now set for August 15. There was no typo; the trial is in 10 days.
However, a move to resume on August 2nd has left it uncertain as to whether it will actually proceed. On July 7, I wrote about the EmpiresX charges.
The only thing I knew about the co-defendants, Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves’ present whereabouts was that Nicholas was in Florida and they had fled to Brazil.
I didn’t realize I wasn’t following the entire docket until earlier today because of the somewhat baffling manner in which Pacer monitors criminal cases. Correcting that prompted an update on the status of the overall criminal case.
In EmpiresX, Nicholas’ job was to pretend to be a licensed broker and assume the position of “Master Trader.”
The DOJ filed an indictment against Nicholas on June 30th, claiming that EmpiresX was a $100 million Ponzi scam.
On June 30th, Nicholas was detained and turned himself in to authorities in Florida. A $50,000 bond was recommended for his first court appearance on July 1st. His arraignment was set for July 15th. A status conference was slated to take place on July 8.
Nicholas requested his right to remain silent and legal representation throughout the hearing and was given a public defender. The aforementioned defendant hereby asserts his right to remain silent and to legal representation with regard to any and all questioning or interrogations, regardless of the topic, including, but not limited to, issues that may affect or relate to an arrest, searches and seizures, bail, pretrial release or detention, trial evidence, guilt or innocence, forfeitures, or that may be relevant to sentencing, enhanced punishments, or factors under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
Any communications with the defendant must go through the defendant’s lawyers, the undersigned. The judge added a curfew to the terms imposed at the hearing when it came to Joshua’s bond.
Joshua’s bond was posted on July 8th (100 percent via check, certified not the proceeds of illegal conduct). Joshua’s bail included a home curfew (11 pm to 6 am) and location tracking. At his arraignment on July 15, Joshua entered a not guilty plea to one count of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud.
The trial for Nicholas was set for August 15th by the court. On July 18, a new public defender was chosen for him. Finally, a joint motion asking for a postponement of Joshua’s trial was submitted on August 2. The trial date would be moved by the parties to May 1, 2023.
A sizable amount of discovery from the government, including about 20,000 records, chat messages, bitcoin exchange and bank records, and other documents, is ready to be provided to the defense. The find also includes several audio and video recordings that together amount to dozens of hours of content.
It is unreasonable to anticipate appropriate preparation for pretrial procedures or the trial itself under the Speedy Trial Act time constraints given the exceptional and complex nature of the case, including the allegations in the indictment and the extensive discovery provided to the defendant.
In essence, Joshua’s EmpiresX case was too complex to put up for trial in a fortnight, which was a problem for both parties. The defendant feels that not getting the extension will prevent him from having consistent legal representation and a sufficient defense. The continuation is not opposed by the government.
No decision had been made regarding the motion as of the time of publication. If it isn’t approved before the 15th, I’d be quite shocked.
It will be interesting to see if the suggested May 2023 date becomes official. The DOJ issued a notice to transfer co-defendants and Empires co-founders Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves to fugitive status on August 1.
I’m not entirely sure what that implies, but I assume it has something to do with the procedure for formally designating Pires and Goncalves as sought fugitives.
Pires and Goncalves fled to Brazil after finding out they were being investigated. Brazilian citizens are not extradited.