Chicago-area rap promoter pleads guilty to wire fraud conspiracy

A Chicago-area man and rap promoter has pleaded guilty to his role in a nationwide wire fraud conspiracy involving rapper "G Herbo" that defrauded businesses and individuals across the United States.

Antonio Strong, 31, of Lansing, admitted on Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 19, 2024.

Strong was indicted in October 2020 alongside five co-defendants, including rap artist Herbert Wright, Joseph Williams, and Demario Sorrells. Between March 2016 and September 2020, Strong and his associates used stolen payment card information to obtain luxury goods and services, such as private jet charters, luxury car rentals, and high-end accommodations, according to court documents.

The scheme involved using authentic payment card details to make fraudulent purchases, which were later disputed by the actual cardholders, leading to chargebacks to the defrauded businesses. Strong concealed his identity using aliases, fake driver’s licenses, and fictitious business emails, claiming associations with companies like "Universal Music" and "Sony Music." The total loss amounted to $2,299,842, which Strong has agreed to repay.

Herbert Wright was sentenced to three years’ probation in January 2024 and ordered to pay restitution and forfeiture of $139,968, plus a $5,500 fine. Williams and Sorrells have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing on June 28, 2024, and Aug. 29, 2024. The remaining defendants are pending trial.

The charges of wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud carry a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.