LOS ANGELES — A rapper who boasted about getting rich through unemployment benefits fraud in a YouTube music video has agreed to plead guilty to federal fraud and gun charges in Los Angeles, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
Under his plea deal, the rapper named Nuke Bizzle — whose real name is Fontrell Baines — will plead guilty at a future date to one count of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition by a convicted felon. plead guilty.
Baines, from Memphis, Tennessee, who recently lived in the Hollywood Hills, faces up to 20 years in federal prison and up to 10 years in firearms for mail fraud. Baines also agreed to forfeit funds previously confiscated by law enforcement totaling $56,750.
Prosecutors say the 33-year-old rapper took advantage of the pandemic unemployment assistance provision of the CARES Act, which is designed to expand access to unemployment benefits for self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who do not qualify.
Baines pleaded guilty to possessing and using a debit card preloaded with unemployment benefits administered by the California Department of Employment Development. Debit cards are issued on behalf of third parties, including identity theft victims. The applications for the cards list addresses Baines can visit in Beverly Hills and Koreatown, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
At least 92 debit cards preloaded with more than $1.2 million in fraudulent benefits were mailed to those addresses, prosecutors said.
The Justice Department said Baines and his collaborators received more than $704,000 in these benefits by withdrawing cash in Las Vegas and elsewhere and purchasing goods and services.
Baines boasted of his ability to trick the EDD in a music video posted on YouTube and on his Instagram account under the names “nukebizzle1” and “nukebizzle23.”
For example, Baines appears in a music video titled “EDD” in which he brags about “swaggering for the EDD” and takes a stack of envelopes from the EDD by “taking a bunch of these to the bank” Get rich — presumably referring to a debit card in the mail, according to court documents. The second rapper in the video said: “You gotta sell cocaine, I’m just making a claim.”