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Tennessee rapper Fontrell Antonio Baines, a.k.a. “Nuke Bizzle,” has agreed to plead guilty to charges of fraud and illegal firearm possession after he bragged about obtaining fraudulent COVID-19 unemployment benefits.
In the 2020 song called “EDD” after California’s Employment Development Department, Baines says, “I done got rich off of EDD.”
“I gotta shoutout to Donald Trump. / I just might swipe me a lump sum,” the rapper says in one verse.
Baines, 33, will plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon after he admitted to attempting to steal about $1.25 million in benefits by filing 92 fraudulent public unemployment assistance (PUA) claims with EDD through the 2020 CARES Act, according to the Justice Department.
Actual losses for the EDD and U.S. Treasury Department from Baines’ scheming resulted in losses of nearly $705,000.
Las Vegas authorities initially arrested Baines in September 2020 after he was found carrying eight debit cards, seven of which were in different names.
Baines is accused of obtaining the funds by using third-party names, including those belonging to identity theft victims. For example, Baines used the identity of a Missouri man who briefly attended school but never worked to apply for unemployment benefits. In September 2020, Baines withdrew about $2,500 from the Missouri man’s name.
Congress expanded those who were eligible for PUA funds under the CARES Act to self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who might not otherwise be eligible for the benefits amid the beginning of the pandemic.
Baines also admitted to having an illegal semi-automatic pistol with 14 rounds of ammunition at his Hollywood Hills home in 2020.
The rapper faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud and 10 years in federal prison for the illegal firearm charge. He has also agreed to forfeit nearly $57,000 previously seized by law enforcement, according to the DOJ.