Crime and Courts

Chicago Rapper G Herbo sentenced to probation in fraud plot to fund lavish lifestyle

G Herbo, whose real name is Herbert Wright III, entered a guilty plea in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts

Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File FILE – Rapper G Herbo performs on Day 4 of the Lollapalooza Music Festival, Aug. 1, 2021, at Grant Park in Chicago.

The rapper G Herbo was sentenced to three years' probation Thursday after pleading guilty to his role in a scheme that used stolen credit card information to pay for an opulent lifestyle including private jets and designer puppies.

Under a deal with prosecutors reached last year, the 28-year-old Chicago rapper, whose real name is Herbert Wright III, entered a guilty plea in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed several counts of aggravated identity theft.

Along with the probation, G Herbo was ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $139,968 each, as well as a $5,500 fine. Those fines are on top of the $140,000 he earlier agreed to forfeit, the amount he benefited from what prosecutors have said was a $1.5 million scheme that involved several other people.

“On social media, Mr. Wright boasted an extravagant lifestyle. He gave the impression that his use of private jets, luxury cars and tropical villas were the legitimate fruits of his booming rap career as ‘G Herbo,’" Acting United States Attorney Joshua Levy said in a statement. "However, his lavish lifestyle was shamelessly built on deceit and fraud using stolen account information that inflicted substantial harm on numerous businesses, leaving a wake of victims burdened with financial losses.”

Prosecutors, in their sentencing memo, argue that G Herbo should be jailed for a year and day and get 36 months of supervised release.

Defense attorneys called for probation, noting G Herbo has expressed regret for his crimes. They also highlighted his contributions to the community as well as the fact he has matured “as a human being, as a family man and as a father.”

“Under the circumstances of this case, a sentence of probation will reflect the seriousness of the charge and protect the public,” according to G Herbo's sentencing memo.

From at least March 2017 until November 2018, G Herbo and his promoter, Antonio Strong, used text messages, social media messages and emails to share account information taken from dark websites, authorities said.

On one occasion, the stolen account information was used to pay for a chartered jet to fly the rapper and members of his entourage from Chicago to Austin, Texas, authorities said. On another, a stolen account was used to pay nearly $15,000 for Wright and seven others to stay several days in a six-bedroom Jamaican villa.

In court documents, prosecutors said G Herbo “used the proceeds of these frauds to travel to various concert venues and to advance his career by posting photographs and/or videos of himself on the private jets, in the exotic cars, and at the Jamaican villa.”

G Herbo also helped Strong order two designer Yorkshire terrier puppies from a Michigan pet shop using a stolen credit card and a fake Washington state driver’s license, according to the indictment. The total cost was more than $10,000, prosecutors said.

When the pet shop’s owner asked to confirm the purchase with G Herbo, Strong directed her to do so through an Instagram message, and G Herbo confirmed he was buying the puppies, authorities said.

Because the stolen credit card information was authentic, the transactions went through and it wasn’t until later that the real credit card holders noticed and reported the fraud.

G Herbo’s music is centered on his experiences growing up on the East Side of Chicago in a neighborhood dubbed Terror Town, including gang and gun violence.

He released his debut mix tapes “Welcome to Fazoland” and “Pistol P Project” in 2014, both named for friends who had been killed in the city. His first album was 2017’s “Humble Beast,” and his latest is “Survivor’s Remorse,” released last year.

His 2020 album “PTSD” debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200.

G Herbo also started a program in Chicago called Swervin’ Through Stress, aimed at giving urban youths tools to navigate mental health crises, after publicly acknowledging his own struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2021 he was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 music list.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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