AUGUSTA, GA: Two men have admitted guilt in a scheme in which they fraudulently claimed to be part of a famed musical group to steal from hotels and a limousine company.
Aaron Barnes-Burpo, 29, of Crestview, Fla., and Walker Washington, 52, of Augusta, each pled guilty in U.S. District Court before Judge Dudley H. Bowen to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. The charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, followed by up to five years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system.
“These men play-acted as bigshots so they could rip off hospitality providers for luxury treatment, but their scam fell apart thanks to an alert Augusta hotel clerk,” said U.S. Attorney Christine. “It didn’t take Nick Cannon to figure out the defendants were lip-synching, and they’ll be disappointed to learn that their future accommodations in federal prison won’t be as swanky as those hotels.”
In court documents and testimony, Barnes-Burpo and Washington admitted that they portrayed themselves as affiliated with the Roc Nation production company and the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, and used those fictitious representations along with fraudulent and stolen credit cards to rent luxury limousines and defraud hotels of thousands of dollars in goods and services in cities including Augusta, Atlanta, and Florence, Ala.
The scam unraveled when staff at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Augusta became suspicious and alerted authorities.
“Facing up to 20 years in federal prison, these two defendants might question whether their short-lived scheme to live like rap stars was worth it,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “As this case demonstrates, law enforcement and the community will not tolerate anyone who fraudulently steals or takes anything that they do not earn or deserve.”
The case is being investigated by the FBI and other state and local authorities, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia G. Rhodes.