AUGUSTA, Georgia: A Florida man has been sentenced to seven years in federal prison after admitting his involvement in a scheme to steal hospitality services by pretending to be part of a famous rap group.
Aaron Barnes-Burpo, 29, of Crestview, Fla., Was sentenced to 84 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, said David H. Estes , Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. . Barnes was also ordered to pay nearly $ 300,000 to 19 companies defrauded under the program and must serve three years of supervised release after the end of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
the co-accused of Barnes-Burpo, Walker Washington, 52, from Augusta, is awaiting conviction in the case after also pleading guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud.
“For several weeks, these men defrauded several companies by posing as famous musical artists and their followers,” said Acting US Attorney Estes. “Thanks to an alert hotel worker, their fake hit parade came to an abrupt end.”
In court documents and testimony, Barnes-Burpo and Washington admitted that they falsely presented themselves as affiliates of production company Roc Nation and hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan as early as September 2019, and used these fictitious representations with stolen credit cards to rent luxury limousines and defraud hotels, caterers and production studios of thousands of dollars in goods and services in several cities, mainly in the Southeast.
The scam came to light on November 21, 2019, when staff at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Augusta became suspicious and alerted the FBI and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
“I hope that some of the companies that have been swindled by this scam will be able to recoup some of their losses as a result of this conviction,” said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta. “This is what happens when you seek a fleeting moment of glory at the expense of others. Neither the police nor the community will tolerate it.
The case is being investigated by the FBI and other state and local authorities, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant US Attorney Patricia G. Rhodes.