A Moreno Valley man who posed as a booking agent for rapper Lil'Wayne, ripping off multiple victims seeking to secure the artist for shows, will be doing time in federal prison at the same time he begins paying back tens of thousands of dollars he took under false pretenses.
Nicholaus Saint James, 30, was convicted in December of six counts of wire fraud for perpetrating a scam that netted $146,500.
U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush on Thursday imposed a two-year sentence on James and ordered the defendant to repay the entire amount of fraudulently obtained funds. Quackenbush granted James time to put his affairs in order before surrendering to U.S. Marshals. A surrender date has not yet been set.
"The court's sentence was appropriate given the serious financial and personal harm James caused the victims in this case as a result of his fraudulent scheme," Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Chiu told City News Service.
Chiu and AUSA Stephen Merrill prosecuted the case, which involved multiple acts of Internet-based fraud over roughly a year.
"This case underscores the need for people doing business via the Internet to take extra precautions to safeguard against fraud, because the Internet gives people more avenues to perpetrate fraudulent schemes," Chiu said. "You should know who you are dealing with before sending money to someone you have never met."
James, who also goes by Semaj Carter, created websites that purported to contain contact information for Lil' Wayne's promoter at an agency-in-name- only called Loedown Management.
Prosecutors alleged that at least six individuals representing venues in Arkansas, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Canada communicated with James, who entered into contracts arranging to have Lil' Wayne do concerts and other appearances in 2008. A college fraternity was also snared in the scam, according to the government.
The largest contract involved a wire transfer of $100,500 to James's bank account to book Lil' Wayne for a six-city concert tour in Canada, as well as a stop in Las Vegas, according to court papers.
When the rapper was a no-show, the tour promoters contacted authorities in Riverside County, triggering an investigation during which sheriff's detectives and U.S. Secret Service agents uncovered other fraudulent activity. James was interviewed by investigators in April 2009 and admitted defrauding multiple individuals, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"The defendant said he started out legitimately booking artists, but he got scammed himself and thereafter started defrauding others," according to a trial brief filed by Chiu and Merrill.
The memorandum states James used his ill-gotten gains to pay off debts, gamble in Vegas and "purchase 'pills, coke and marijuana."'
The sometime Hip Hop DJ told investigators that he knew Lil' Wayneand his "people," including the rapper's manager, Cortez Bryant, whom authorities later confirmed handled all of Lil' Wayne's bookings personally.
—City News Service.