By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Officials at the U.S. Department of Justice say that a Bay area rapper was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for his role in orchestrating a complex loan fraud and identity theft conspiracy.
Mark “Kafani” Hicks, aka Amir Rashad, 42, of Oakley, Calif., allegedly admitted to being at the center of a conspiracy in which he directed a team of criminals who stole approximately $2 million from banks and lending institutions.
According to a press release, during a two-year period, Hicks impersonated victims in over a dozen phone calls with banks, lending institutions, and gold dealers.
Over $480,000 of the illicit gains were recovered from a safe deposit box controlled by Hicks’s relatives, authorities said.
Hicks allegedly used the stolen funds to buy gold bars and coins that his co-conspirators sold for cash.
Hicks was sentenced to 87 months behind bars.
Hicks, who went by the name of Kafani as a rapper, had singles “She Ready Now” and “Fast (Like a Nascar)” as well as guest appearances on other albums.
Co-defendants Demarcus Hicks, 38, of Stockton, Calif., and Dionysius “Donnie” Costello, 38, of Berkeley, Calif., were sentenced to 48 months and 54 months respectively for their roles in the conspiracy.
The sentences were handed down by United States District Judge James Donato. Donato ordered each of the defendants to pay restitution in the amount of $1,904,988.79.
United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds, FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Acting Inspector in Charge Kevin Rho, and U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Shawn M. Bradstreet made the announcement about the sentencing on Tuesday.
The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Barbara J. Valliere and David J. Ward, with assistance from Claudia Hyslop and Kathy Tat.
These prosecutions are the result of investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Secret Service, and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
An additional three members of the fraud ring were sentenced on May 23, 2022, and June 13, 2022. A seventh alleged member remains a fugitive, according to the press release.
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