wplg logo
SHOW MORE 

Pretty Ricky rapper used COVID-19 relief loan to buy Ferrari, feds say

The rap group Pretty Ricky appears on BET's "106 & Park" in this file photo. Member Diamond Blue Smith has been accused of defrauding a federal COVID-19 relief program.
The rap group Pretty Ricky appears on BET's "106 & Park" in this file photo. Member Diamond Blue Smith has been accused of defrauding a federal COVID-19 relief program. (2009 Getty Images)

MIRAMAR, Fla. – A rapper from the group Pretty Ricky faces federal charges after investigators say he fraudulently obtained a coronavirus relief loan and then used the money to buy a $96,000 Ferrari and other luxury items.

Diamond Blue Smith, 36, of Miramar, was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud. He was arrested and appeared Monday before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Georgia.

The feds say Smith used falsified documents to secure a $426,717 loan under the Paycheck Protection Program for his company Throwbackjersey.com LLC. The Paycheck Protection Program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — intended to provide emergency financial help for the millions of Americans suffering from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith is accused of then seeking another loan of $708,065 for his other company, Blue Star Records LLC, again using falsified documents.

Authorities say he also sought PPP loans on behalf of others in order to receive kickbacks.

The Ferrari he allegedly bought with the proceeds was seized.

NFL player Josh Bellamy was previously arrested in the scheme that in total sought over $24 million from the Paycheck Protection Program.

Last month, the 31-year-old Bellamy was charged in South Florida federal court with wire and bank fraud in addition to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Investigators say he bought $104,000 worth of luxury goods and spent more than $62,000 of the loan at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Tonye C. Johnson, 28, the owner of a Pennsylvania towing company, also had his complaint unsealed Tuesday along with Smith’s. He faces the same charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

According to the U.S. Justice Department, the other defendants allegedly involved in this scheme whose complaints were previously unsealed include:

  • Tiara Walker, 37, of Miami Gardens, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on Sept. 3, 2020, in the Southern District of Florida, with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud;
  • Damion O. Mckenzie, 38, of Miami Gardens, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on Aug. 3, 2020, in the Southern District of Florida with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud;
  • Andre M. Clark, 46, of Miramar, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on Aug. 3, 2020, in the Southern District of Florida with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud;
  • Keyaira Bostic, 31, of Pembroke Pines, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on Aug. 3, 2020, in the Southern District of Florida with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud;
  • Phillip J. Augustin, 51, of Coral Springs, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on July 28, 2020, in the Northern District of Ohio with wire fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and obstruction;
  • Wyleia Nashon Williams, 44, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on July 28, 2020, in the Northern District of Ohio with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud;
  • James R. Stote, 54, of Hollywood, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on June 24, 2020, in the Northern District of Ohio with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud;
  • Ross Charno, 46, of Fort Lauderdale, was charged in a federal criminal complaint filed on June 24, 2020, in the Northern District of Ohio with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud;
  • Deon D. Levy, 50, of Bedford, Ohio, was charged in a federal complaint filed on June 8, 2020, in the Northern District of Ohio with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and
  • Abdul-Azeem Levy, 22, of Cleveland, Ohio was charged in a federal complaint filed on June 8, 2020, in the Northern District of Ohio with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Justice officials say that anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling 866-720-5721 or vising https://www.justice.gov/disaster-fraud/ncdf-disaster-complaint-form.


About the Author:

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.