A rapper who boasted about committing unemployment fraud has agreed to a plea deal.
According to the Department of Justice, 33-year-old Fontrell Antonio Baines, aka Nuke Bizzle, has confessed to illegally obtaining COVID relief funds in the summer of 2020. Baines is accused of bragging about the scheme in the music video for “EDD”—a reference to the Employment Development Department debit cards that are issued through the mail.
Prosecutors say the defendant and his associates exploited Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provisions of the CARES Act, which expands unemployment benefits to independent contractors and small business owners who typically would be ineligible. Officials say the “EDD” visual shows Baines holding up a stack of envelopes from EDD, while rapping about “go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these.”
Baines was accused of fraudulently applying for more than $1.2 million in unemployment benefits. He allegedly used the names of third parties, including identify theft victims, to obtain more than 90 pre-loaded debit cards. Those cards were reportedly sent to Beverly Hills and Koreatown addresses that were associated with Baines.
The rapper, originally from Memphis, Tennessee, previously pleaded not guilty to three felony charges: access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property, the Los Angeles Times reported. Prosecutors say he has since confessed to filing at least 92 bogus PUA claim with EDD, giving him and his associates access to $704,000 through cash withdrawals. He also allegedly admitted to being a felon in possession of a semi-automatic pistol with 14 rounds of ammunition
Under the new agreement, Baines will plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. He has also agreed to give up $56,000 in cash that was seized by law enforcement. Baines faces up to 20 years in prison for the fraud charges and 10 years for the weapons charges.