U.S. gun sales soar amid pandemic, social unrest, election fears
GUN SALES SOARING TO LIBERALS WHO FEEL UNSAFE
Andreyah Garland, a 44-year-old single mother of three daughters, bought a shotgun in May for protection in the quaint middle-class town of Fishkill, New York. She joined a new and fast-growing local gun club to learn how to shoot.
Andreyah Garland, a 44-year-old single mother of three daughters and member of the Hudson Valley Nubian Gun Club, opens a case with her Mossberg 590M 12 gauge shotgun as she prepares for a gun training session in Newburgh, New York,
She has since applied for a pistol permit and constantly hunts for increasingly scarce ammunition – making three trips weekly to a local Walmart. “They’re always out,” she said.
Like legions of other first-time buyers who are contributing to record sales for the U.S. gun industry this year, Garland’s decision to take up arms is driven in part by disturbing news about the coronavirus pandemic, social unrest over police killings of Black people and a potentially contested election that many fear could spark violence.
“With everything going on around us,” she said, “you see a need.”
Fontrell Antonio Baines, 31, who uses the stage name “Nuke Bizzle,” was arrested on federal charges alleging he fraudulently obtained unemployment insurance benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Baines who’s from of Memphis, Tennessee, and currently resides in the Hollywood Hills, is expected to make his initial appearance Friday afternoon in Los Angeles federal court
THRE FELONIES CHARGED
The criminal complaint alleges three felony offenses — access device fraud, aggravated identity theft, and interstate transportation of stolen property. If convicted of all of charges, Baines would face up to 22 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors allege Baines exploited the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provision of the CARES Act, which is designed to expand access to unemployment benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors and others who would not otherwise be eligible.
According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, Baines possessed and used debit cards pre-loaded with unemployment benefits administered by the California Employment Development Department. The debit cards were issued in the names of third-parties, including identity theft victims, according to prosecutors, who allege the applications for the cards listed addresses to which Baines had access in Beverly Hills and Koreatown.
92 DEBIT CARDS FOUND
Evidence gathered during the investigation established that at least 92 debit cards that had been pre-loaded with more than $1.2 million in fraudulently obtained benefits were mailed to those addresses, according to the affidavit. Baines and his co-schemers allegedly accessed more than $704,000 of those benefits through cash withdrawals, including in Las Vegas, as well as purchases of merchandise and services.
The affidavit further alleges that Baines bragged about his ability to defraud the EDD in a music video posted on YouTube and in postings to his Instagram account, under the handles “nukebizzle1” and “nukebizzle23.”
SWAGGER FOR EDD VIDEO POSTED ONLINE
For example, Baines appears in a music video called “EDD” in which he boasts about doing “my swagger for EDD” and, holding up a stack of envelopes from EDD, getting rich by going “to the bank with a stack of these” — presumably a reference to the debit cards that come in the mail, according to court papers. A second rapper in the video intones, “You gotta sell cocaine, I just file a claim.”
On Sept. 23, Las Vegas police arrested Baines, who had in his possession eight debit cards, seven of which were in the names of other people, the affidavit states.