A Los Angeles-based rapper who bragged about committing COVID-19 fraud in his music video has been sentenced to over six years in prison on Wednesday.
Fontrell Antonio Baines, 33, who’s also known as “Nuke Bizzle,” was sentenced to 77 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $704,760 in restitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Baines is originally from Memphis, Tennessee.
Authorities say Baines illegally obtained over $700,000 by exploiting pandemic unemployment benefits administered by the California Employment Development Department from July 2020 to September 2020.
In Baines’ music video titled “EDD,” the rapper is seen holding up a stack of envelopes from the EDD while saying he was getting rich by “go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these,” referencing the debit cards that came in the mail.
The rapper submitted false applications using the names of third parties and identity theft victims along with fake work histories. He included addresses in Beverly Hills and Koreatown to which he had access, officials said.
The debit cards arrived pre-loaded with unemployment benefits obtained through 92 fraudulent claims with total losses of at least $704,760.
“Through his fraud, Baines turned the taxpayer-funded program into ‘his personal piggybank,'” said federal prosecutors.
Baines’ sentencing is combined with two separate charges besides the EDD case. In October 2020, he was caught for the illegal possession of a semi-automatic pistol with 14 rounds of ammunition found in his Hollywood Hills home.
Baines pleaded guilty on July 11 to one count of mail fraud and also pleaded guilty on August 30 to possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute in a case transferred from the Western District of Tennessee. Baines has been in federal custody since October 2020.
Anyone with information about attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the NCDF Web Complaint Form online.