Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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Rapper who talked about Covid relief fraud gets more than 6 years in prison

In Los Angeles Rapper from Tennessee who talked about defrauding Covid-19 medication in a music video was given a term of more than six years in prison on Wednesday, according to the prosecution.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles noted that the 77-month sentence also included guilty pleas to gun and narcotics charges in separate cases.
Prosecutors claim that Fontrell Antonio Baines, also known as “Nuke Bizzle,” of Memphis, misappropriated more than $700,000 in Covid-19 unemployment benefits through a scam that involved using other people’s names or stolen identities.

According to court filings, Baines, 33, boasted about the fraud in videos posted to YouTube and Instagram. From at least July through September 2020, the fraud occurred.

The name of California’s Employment Development Department, which is in charge of unemployment payouts, was referenced in a song that was put online in September 2020 with the title “EDD.”

Prosecutors used the video as evidence in court records. It shows people checking their mail and typing on laptops while holding handfuls of $100 bills. Another artist raps, “You gotta sell drugs, I can just submit a claim,” at one point.

Baines’ federal public defenders on Wednesday declined to comment.

The U.S. attorney’s office for Central California said that in addition to the Covid fraud case, Baines also admitted to illegally possessing a pistol and ammunition by a convicted felon and possessing oxycodone with the intent to distribute.

In a letter to the judge, Baines expressed regret for his actions. Every time I reflect on what I did, I regret what I did and the effect my crime had on other people, he wrote.

Baines was mandated to make reparation payments of $704,760 in addition to the prison term.

Massive financial resources were granted by Congress to aid those impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, which severely disrupted the economy.

According to the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Labor Department, at least $163 billion in pandemic unemployment insurance benefits as well as $872.5 billion in funds may have been disbursed inappropriately, some of it through fraud.

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