“My Swagger For EDD”: Rapper Charged After Boasting on YouTube About Defrauding The Government

We have previously discussed bizarre cases of self-incrimination from tattoos to rap lyrics.  A federal case out of California is based on another rap-song-to-rap-sheet scenario.  Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, of Memphis, Tenn. (aka “Nuke Bizzle”) cut a music video posted on YouTube that bragged about getting rich from an unemployment scam. What is interesting is that, while he allegedly defrauded California Employment Development Department (EDD) and sang about his “my swagger for EDD,” he was actually charged in the federal system with fraudulently applying for more than $1.2 million in jobless benefits.

The reason for the federal charge appears to be the incorporation of EDD payments under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and specifically the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provision. This provision expands access to unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others who would not otherwise be eligible for relief. Baines is accused of using various debit cards pre-loaded with unemployment benefits administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) in the names of third-parties, including identity theft victims.

The scope of the alleged scheme is the other extraordinary aspect of the case.  He is accused of using at least 92 debit cards with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits that were mailed to various addresses. (He was arrested with eight debit cards, seven of which were in the names of other persons). More than $704,000 of these benefits were then utilized through cash withdrawals, including in Las Vegas.

Baines proceeded to turn his alleged criminal scheme into a song on YouTube where he boasted of doing “my swagger for EDD” and, holding up a stack of envelopes from EDD, getting rich by “go[ing] to the bank with a stack of these.” He even appears to chide those who commit crime the old fashioned way: “You gotta sell cocaine, I just file a claim….”

He is now charged with felonies for access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property. That could result in 22 years in prison.

As a criminal defense attorney, this is the type of case that you particularly dread because the video is likely to be admitted to any trial. It is hard to develop juror sympathy with this type of video embedded in their brains.  You can certainly move to exclude but the court is likely to find the video material, particularly if it was used to identity the defendant.  It also includes images of the means of the alleged crime. Rule 403 states that “The court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.”

Here is the music video but I encourage you to watch it purely for its entertainment rather than instructional value:

18 thoughts on ““My Swagger For EDD”: Rapper Charged After Boasting on YouTube About Defrauding The Government”

  1. People who need money aren’t getting it. Part of that is because thieves and scammers steal from the need with schemes like this. The other reason is because the CA government couldn’t, or wouldn’t figure out how to have their employees work from home during the pandemic shutdown.

    Didn’t receive your EDD or other support check? Need to buy food? Did your money go to some rapper? Too bad. The office is closed. You’ll be directed through the phone tree until the very last option says they’re closed. The stories, begging, pleading, are terrible here in CA.

    That’s a government agency for you. It doesn’t care about the people they serve. They all desire more growth, more money, more bloat, more power.

  2. I get a charge out of these wack jobs that get on social media and brag about something they did that was illegal and don’t realize th
    at the world is watching them.

  3. Let’s review briefly.

    The entire American welfare state is unconstitutional including, but not limited to, generational welfare, public assistance cash payments, affirmative action, quotas, food stamps, rent control, social services, forced busing, minimum wage, utility subsidies, WIC, TANF, HAMP, HARP, TARP, Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Labor, Energy, Obamacare, Social Security, Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Income, Medicare, Medicaid, “Fair Housing” laws, “Non-Discrimination” laws, etc.

    Article 1, Section 8 provides the power to tax for only “…general Welfare…,” omitting and, thereby, excluding any and all forms of individual welfare, specific welfare, redistribution of wealth and charity.

    The 5th Amendment right to private property is not qualified by the Constitution and is, therefore, absolute, denying any interference by Congress with the possession and/or disposition of said private property, as James Madison said, “[private property is] that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual”; dominion claimed and exercised.

    Congress is enumerated the power to regulate only money, the “flow” of commerce and land and naval Forces.

    No form of cash assistance, no manipulation of, control of or interference with private property and no regulation beyond that of money, commerce and land and naval Forces is constitutional.

    The entire communistic American welfare state is unconstitutional.

  4. Pffft. Total amateur.

    The movie “Chasing Amy” has the most hilarious scene on black rage ever produced in a film, performed by a black gay man with a loaded gun looking to sell comic books.

    1. We enjoyed that movie when it came out. Years later, it appears on cable and we sit down to watch with a member of the older generation. We turned it off after a short time as in her presence we noticed something we hadn’t the first time: the carpet f-bombing. (There were however a number of great scenes, this one especially). It’s a testament to how degraded our culture is that the real comedy in this film would be scotched before it ever got to the screen, and subject to the cancel culture if it ever managed to make it that far.

      1. Don Lemon likely got his start from this clip. The comments @3:30 “wrong coast” & “I’ll play your victim but not your catcher” – priceless. Why does Peter Shill come to mind?

        we stopped watching TV and movies decades ago precisely because of the garbage content and language. Funny how our biggest enjoyment at home these days is cooking & washing dishes together after meals, discussing the people we met and so forth.

  5. “As a criminal defense attorney, this is the type of case that you particularly dread because the video is likely to be admitted to any trial.”

    Given what we know, is there any chance that this will actually go to trial?

  6. Reminds me of one of the “Jena 6” hoodlums, the one photographed with his mouth stuffed full of $100 bills.

  7. One moron is able to scam the system for thousands and you believe the Democrats aren’t capable of scamming the mail in ballot system?

    1. Or alternately that others aren’t doing the same in large numbers? I’ve overheard conversations about it at the flippin’ convenience store where I am. People are VERY proud of draining the coffers as long as they possibly can. Hint: yes, my state is on that top ten list for unemployment. Huh. I wonder why? /s

  8. “Gettin’ ovah” was the dirty big secret during the 8 years of the Obama admin.

    Bogus social security disability claims became so rampant that law firms were buying advertising to promote their ability to get people disability benefits, who were not disabled in any way.

    The most obvious symptom of that scam are young perfectly healthy people with handicapped stickers on their cars parking in handicapped parking spots everywhere.

    Just a more modern version of LBJ’s virtual plantation welfare state.

    1. Bogus social security disability claims

      Not bogus. Rather, in the hands of the U.S. Congress, the bar, and hearing examiners, ‘disability’ has been turned into a term of art that leads to examples which would leave an ordinary person dumbfounded.

      The median age at the time of a disability award is 49 years and the median time on the rolls is about eight years; most people who apply are turned down, but geographic jurisdictions can vary quite a bit as to the frequency of that. It’s mostly late-middle aged people with physical problems. You do see the damnedest things, though. One of the attorneys I correspond with specializes in a mix of bankruptcy and criminal practice. He said he had this pair of clients (shacked up with each other) who were awarded disability benefits. He said that as far as he could see, they only disability they had was that both were drug addicts. We have a shirt-tail whose mother was advised by a professional to apply for disability benefits for her (and I think did so reluctantly). She has no disability whatsoever bar a failure-to-launch problem to beat the band. We’ve never heard explicitly if she was awarded disability or not.

      1. Thanks for the clarification Counselor.

        But by “bogus”, I think you know what I mean. I mean they are perfectly capable of working and earning a living. But just like Nuke Bizzle and Fat Wizza, they prefer to get paid for doing nothing.

        But the emotional/mental disablilty claims really piss me off.

        https://www.disabilitybenefitslaw.com/mental-illness-ssdi

        There are combat veterans with severe PTSD who should be getting that assistance. But not some worthless POS who in reality has no problems whatsoever.

        Then there are the a-holes taking up handicapped parking spaces that are intended for folks who are actually physically handicapped. That’s as low as you can go, in my book.

  9. Defending attorney…”He was only trying to help the government understand how easy it is to defraud and play the system.” He has made the “Dumbest Criminals List”.

  10. I won’t watch the video or look at the person’s photo any bit more. He needs a sentence of full time for each theft. Seven hundred years in prison would be ok.

Leave a Reply