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Crime

Self-Snitching L.A. Rapper Will Plead Guilty to Defrauding EDD of Over $1 Million

Nuke Bizzle from the EDD video

The social media generation may be as famous for self-incrimination as it is for TikTok grinding, ice bucket challenges, and airbrushing all signs of evident reality from off of their foreheads.

The latest case of self-snitching revolves around a 33-year-old, Memphis-born rapper named Nuke Bizzle, nee Fontrell Baines, who agreed this week to plead guilty in Los Angeles to federal fraud and firearms charges, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release that came out Wednesday.

Bizzle, who was arrested in October 2020, remaining in federal custody ever since admits to filing 92 fraudulent Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims during the early months of the COVID-19-era CARES Act program, taking the U.S. Treasury for actual losses of $704,760 (the cash he got) and an attempted $1,256,108.

And he would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for his pesky boasting about his own criminal acts on YouTube. In a video posted in the same month as his arrest, titled "EDD" and kicking off with the rapper on his laptop and an actual giant EDD logo flashing on the screen, Bizzle laid out his crimes, both in the lyrics and onscreen action.

The video shows him filing claims online, walking up to his mailbox to receive loaded debit cards, and throwing cash around as he and another rapper named Fat Wizza brag about their "swagger for EDD," "getting rich off EDD," heading "to the bank with a stack of these," and "shout(ing) out to Donald Trump," who we could ostensibly see pardoning Bizzle some day for that very shout-0ut.

Considering the first self-evident rule of committing any crime is NOT to draw attention to it, and the second should probably be "don't taunt the Feds" in a rabidly viewed video format, it's all pretty safe to say that Nuke Bizzle is the #1 contender for dumbest rapper, alive, dead, or badly tattooed.

According to the government's case, Baines was getting unemployment insurance money he didn't merit by filing fraudulent applications for benefits in other's people's names, using addresses in Beverly Hills and Koreatown that he had access to, and often withdrawing cash from the cards. Those early days of the pandemic saw a lot of this kind of fraud, with homes for sale thought to be possible targets of thieves who would use the identities of homeowners moving out of state, in an attempt to steal their identities and file on their behalves. Two years later, such fraud is still said to be rampant.

Shortly after his video caught the attention of federal authorities, Baines admitted to possessing a semi-automatic firearm with 14 rounds, which was illegal due to two past felony convictions, a 2011 intent-to-sell drug conviction back home in Tennessee and a 2014 conviction in Nevada for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

This week, Baines agreed to cop to one count of mail fraud and unlawful firearm possession and will go up against a 20-year sentence for the former, and 10 years for the latter. In addition, he'll forfeit $56,750 in already seized funds. Baines is expected to submit the guilty plea sometime in the next few days.

According to early estimates, the U.S. lost over $36 billion to fraudulent EDD payments before the first year of COVID was up, though some say the number is even higher, as amateur criminals and professional crime syndicates alike stuck their hands deep into the government's CARES cookie jar.

Here's Nuke Bizzle, one last time, describing his own attempt:

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