Memphis Rapper Pleads Guilty and Faces 20 Years After Bragging in Music Video About Scamming the Government For COVID Relief

Memphis Rapper Pleads Guilty and Faces 20 Years After Bragging in Music Video About Scamming the Government For COVID Relief

Fontrell Antonio Baines Pleads Guilty and Faces 20 Years After Bragging in Music Video About Scamming the Government For COVID Relief

Nearly two years ago, a Memphis rapper was arrested and faced federal charges after bragging in a YouTube music video about how he gamed the government by applying for and receiving financial aid.

Using a stolen identity, Fontrell Antonio Baines fraudulently applied and received $1.2 million in jobless benefits from a COVID-19 jobless relief program, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney’s Office for Southern CaliforniaBaines, 31, of Memphis, Tennessee, who goes by “Nuke Bizzle,” was arrested for his action in October 2020.

According to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service), “Nuke Bizzle” has agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon.

Based on his plea arrangement, Baines unlawfully took advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provisions of the CARES Act (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act). The purpose of the act was to provide relief to people who were affected by the shutdown caused by the pandemic. He was awarded unemployment insurance money to which he was not entitled. He had done so from July 2020 to September 2020.

Baines has been in federal custody since he was arrested in October 2020. He admitted that 92 fraudulent PUA claims were filed with EDD, which resulted in attempted losses to EDD and the United States Treasury to the tune of approximately $1,256,108 and actual losses of at least $704,760.

According to the complaint, Baines possessed and used debit cards that were pre-loaded with unemployment benefits given to him by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The applications for these debit cards listed addresses to which Baines had access to in Beverly Hills and Koreatown.

The investigation discovered that at least 92 debit cards had been pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits mailed to those addresses. Baines and others allegedly accessed more than $704,000 from cash withdrawals, including in Las Vegas, and also utilized the cards to purchase merchandise and services.

Baines released a song and video titled “EDD” that bragged about what he had done to obtain fraudulent funds from the government. The rapper was arrested in Las Vegas on September 23, and the police officers found eight of the debit cards, seven of which were in the names of other people, on him.

In the video, Baines and another rapper brag about doing “my swagger for EDD.” They also hold up a stack of envelopes from EDD, and rap that they are getting rich by “go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these.” At another point in the video, the artists are seen checking the mail several times and walking away with envelopes that appear to be marked EDD as they rap, “You got to sell cocaine, I can just file a claim.”

Baines faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the mail fraud count. He is also facing 10 years in federal prison for the unlawful firearm and ammunition possession count. Under his plea agreement, he has also agreed to forfeit money totaling $56,750 that was seized by law enforcement.

Fontrell Antonio Baines Pleads Guilty and Faces 20 Years After Bragging in Music Video About Scamming the Government For COVID Relief

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