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Chicago rap promoter pleads guilty in Boston; fraud netted millions for private jet, luxury cars, designer puppies

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Defendant responsible for $2.3 million in victim losses; funds used for private jet and yacht charters, luxury cars and hotels, and designer puppies.

“BOSTON – A Chicago-area man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Springfield, Mass. to his role in a nationwide wire fraud conspiracy that victimized businesses and individuals across the United States.

Antonio M. Strong, 31, of Lansing, Ill., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni scheduled sentencing for Sept. 19, 2024.

Strong was indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2020 along with five co-defendants, including rap artist Herbert Wright, Joseph Williams and Demario Sorrells

According to court documents, between at least March 2016 and September 2020, Strong conspired with Wright, Sorrells, Williams and others to defraud numerous businesses and individuals by obtaining, possessing, using and transferring unauthorized and stolen payment card account information to obtain valuable goods and services, including: private jet and yacht charters; luxury car rentals; luxury hotel and vacation rental accommodations; private chef and security guard services; designer puppies; limousine and chauffer services; and commercial airline flights, among other things. During this time, Strong presented himself as a music promoter based in the Chicago area.

The stolen payment card account information included the actual cardholders’ names, addresses, payment card account numbers, security codes and account expiration dates. Because Strong and his alleged co-conspirators provided authentic payment card information, the defrauded businesses and individuals successfully processed their transactions and provided the goods and services. The actual cardholders discovered these transactions on their accounts and disputed the charges, which were reversed by the payment card companies. As a result, the transactions were charged back to the businesses and individuals from whom Strong and his co-conspirators defrauded with the unauthorized transactions.

To conceal his identity and perpetrate the fraud, Strong used various fictitious names and aliases; provided fake driver’s licenses in the names of both fictitious and real people; used email accounts in the names of fictitious and real businesses; and falsely stated that he was from “Universal Music,” “Sony Music,” “Epic Music,” and other real and fictitious companies. Strong caused a total loss of $2,299,842, which he has agreed to repay.

In January 2024, Wright was sentenced to three years’ probation and was ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $139,968, as well as a $5,500 fine after previously pleading guilty. Williams and Sorrells have also pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are scheduled to be sentenced on June 28, 2024 and Aug. 29, 2024, respectively. The remaining two defendants are pending trial.

The charges of wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Andrew Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Boston Field Office made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of the Springfield Branch Office and Trial Attorneys Andrew Tyler and Kyle Crawford of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”-Massachusetts Department of Justice.

About Joe Silvia

When Joe isn't writing, he's coaching people to punch each other in the face. He enjoys ancient cultures, dead and living languages, cooking, benching 999#s, and saving the elderly, babies and puppies from burning buildings. While he enjoys long walks on the beach, he will not be your alarm clock, because he's no ding-a-ling.

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