Joshua Nicholas’ EmpiresX criminal trial is currently scheduled for August 15th.
That’s not a typo, the trial is ten days away.
Whether it actually goes ahead though is now up in the air, following an August 2nd motion to continue.
I covered the EmpiresX indictments back on July 7th. Beyond knowing Nicholas was in Florida and co-defendants Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves had fled to Brazil though, I was unclear on their respective current status.
Owing to the sometimes confusing way Pacer tracks criminal cases, it was only earlier today I realized I wasn’t tracking the full docket.
Remedying that opened up a status update on the entire criminal case.
Nicholas’ role in EmpiresX was to misappropriate the identity of a registered broker and play “Master Trader”.
Nicholas was indicted on June 30th, with the DOJ alleging EmpiresX was a $100 million dollar Ponzi scheme.
Nicholas was arrested or surrendered himself in Florida on June 30th. His initial appearance was on July 1st, resulting in a $50,000 bond recommendation and scheduled July 15th arraignment.
On July 8th a Status Conference was scheduled for July 8th. At the hearing, Nicholas was assigned a Public Defender and invoked his right to silence and counsel.
The defendant named above does hereby invoke his right to remain silent and to counsel with respect to any and all questioning or interrogation, regardless of the subject matter, including, but not limited to, matters that may bear on or relate to arrest, searches and seizures, bail, pretrial release or detention, evidence at trial, guilt or innocence, forfeitures, or that may be relevant to sentencing, enhanced punishments, factors applicable under the U. S. Sentencing Guidelines, restitution, immigration status or consequences resulting from arrest or conviction, appeals or other post-trial proceedings.
Any contact with the defendant must be made through the defendant’s lawyer, undersigned counsel.
Joshua’s bond was also discussed at the hearing, with the Judge adding curfew to the imposed conditions.
On July 8th Joshua’s bond was posted (10% via check, certified not the proceeds of illegal conduct). The terms of Joshua’s bond were set at home curfew (11pm-6:30am), with location monitoring.
At Joshua’s July 15th arraignment he pled not guilty to one count of wire fraud and securities fraud each.
The court scheduled Nicholas’ trial for August 15th. He was assigned a new Public Defender on July 18th.
Finally on August 2nd, a joint motion requesting a continuance of Joshua’s trial was filed.
The parties are seeking to reset the trial date to May 1, 2023.
The government has a substantial volume of discovery ready to be produced to the defense, including approximately 20,000 records, chat messages, cryptocurrency exchange and bank records, and other documents.
Additionally, the discovery contains numerous video and audio recordings, totaling dozens of hours of footage.
Due to the nature of the prosecution, including the charges in the indictment and the voluminous discovery produced to defendant, this case is so unusual and complex that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for the trial itself within
the Speedy Trial Act time limits.
Basically, for both sides, Joshua’s EmpiresX case was too big to put together for trial in a fortnight.
Defendant believes that failure to grant the continuance will deny him continuity of counsel and adequate representation.
The government does not object to the continuance.
At time of publication there has been ruling on the motion. I’d be very surprised if it’s not granted between now and the 15th.
Whether the requested May 2023 date sticks remains to be seen.
With respect to co-defendants and Empires co-founders, Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves, the DOJ filed a notice to transfer the pair to fugitive status on August 1st.
I’m not 100% clear on what that means, but I’m assuming it’s part of the process of officially recognizing Pires and Goncalves as wanted fugitives.
Upon learning they were under investigation, Pires and Goncalves fled to Brazil. Brazil does not extradite its citizens.