Rapper sentenced to 6 years after bragging about COVID fraud in music video
WREG-TV (Memphis, TN)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) -- A rapper from Memphis who bragged about getting rich by scamming a COVID relief program in a music video will spend the next six years behind bars, the U.S. Attorney's Office Central District of California announced.
33-year-old Fontrell Antonio Baines, known as Nuke Bizzle, was sentenced Thursday to six years in federal prison and ordered to pay $704,760 in restitution to the California Employment Development Department (EDD).
According to authorities, Baines illegally exploited the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provisions of the CARES Act to receive more than $700,000 in unemployment insurance money from July 2020 to September 2020.
The application for the benefits included false statements about work histories and other people's addresses. Investigators say he had access to the homes and took debit cards pre-loaded with unemployment benefits.
He filed 92 fraudulent claims.
In a music video titled "EDD", Baines boasted about defrauding the EDD, holding a stack of envelopes from EDD, and getting rich by "go[ing] to the bank with stacks of these' - referring to the debit cards that arrived in the mail, court documents stated.
The U.S. Attorney's Office said on July 11, Baines pleaded guilty to mail fraud and, in a separate case, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon. He also pleaded guilty on Aug. 30 to possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute in a case transferred from the Western District of Tennessee.
Baines has remained in federal custody since he was arrested in Oct. 2020.