An aspiring rapper who bragged about stealing pandemic benefits has agreed to plead guilty and will serve prison time.
Baines, who is originally from Memphis, pled guilty to illegally obtaining COVID relief funds in 2020. He is accused of stealing more than $1.2 million in unemployment benefits preloaded on 92 debit cards from the Employment Development Department (EDD).
Federal authorities indicted Baines after he appeared in a music video for "EDD" flashing stacks of cash and bragging about defrauding the federal government.
"I just got rich off of EDD/ I just woke up to 300 Gs," Baines bragged. "Unemployment so sweet/ We had 1.5 land this week." Rapper Fat Wizza added: "You gotta sell cocaine, I can just file a claim."
The hip-hop artist was charged with access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property.
Prosecutors say the defendant and his associates exploited Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provisions of the CARES Act.
He allegedly used the names of identify theft victims to obtain more than 90 pre-loaded debit cards. Those cards were reportedly mailed to Beverly Hills and Koreatown addresses that were linked to Baines.
Baines and his associates withdrew $704,000 in cash using the cards.
He also allegedly admitted to being a felon in possession of a firearm with 14 rounds of ammunition.
Baines agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. He will also forfeit $56,000 in cash that was seized by federal agents.
Baines faces up to 20 years in prison for the fraud charges and 10 years for the weapons charges.