Pretty Ricky’s Baby Blue Sentenced to Nearly Two Years in Prison for COVID-19 Loan Scam, Forced to Pay Over $1 Million Back
According to court documents obtained by XXL on Wednesday (Dec. 22), the South Florida rhymer, born Diamond Blue Smith, was sentenced to 20 months in prison on Dec. 16 for one count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud. Baby Blue's sentencing comes over a year after he was accused in October of 2020 of filing fake loan applications to obtain funds specifically allotted to small businesses as part of the U.S. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Baby Blue received more than $24 million.
Additionally, he must pay $1,111,345.23 in restitution and a $100 assessment fee.
Baby Blue Whoaaa, who previously said that he was facing life in prison for this crime, has been ordered to surrender "at the institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons or to the United States Marshal for this district"—"in the Southern District of Florida or a facility nearest Atlanta, Georgia"—before 2 p.m. on Feb. 7, 2022.
As previously reported, Baby Blue appeared in court last October after being hit with the federal-level charges. He was also on the hook for using false documents to receive a $426,717 PPP loan for his company Throwbackjersey.com LLC. An additional loan using falsified documents was obtained for his Blue Star Records, LLC company in the amount of $708,065.
The rapper, who gained popularity in the mid-2000s with his group Pretty Ricky and recently embarked on the Millennium Tour with his bandmates, plus Bow Wow, Ashanti and more, allegedly withdrew $271,805 in loan funds. He also allegedly purchased a $96,000 Ferrari, which was seized when he was taken into custody, along with the other lavish items he purchased using the loan funds.
Baby Blue Whoaaa didn't work alone, though. A man named Tonye C. Johnson was also accused of participating in the scheme. Johnson allegedly obtained a PPP loan in the amount of $389,627 for his company Synergy Towing & Transport LLC. Falsified documents were used to obtain these funds as well.
The wire fraud scheme allegedly involved at least 90 fraudulent applications, most of which were submitted.
The feds also claimed that Baby Blue recruited accomplices to file for loans, which would allow him to receive illegal payments as compensation for the service. Eleven individuals were involved in the case.
The IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) in Miami and Cincinnati, FBI in Miami and Cleveland and the Small Business Association Office of Inspector General (SBA-OIG) investigated the Baby Blue and Tonye C. Johnson case.