Nida appeared in court yesterday where he accepted charges that could land him in prison for up to 30 years.
Nida’s co-conspirator Gayla St. Julien, who said Nida ran the show and helped turn him in after she was arrested in September, 2013, received a sentence of 61 m0nths last month.
According to Rodney Ho of The AJC, Nida stated in court that he takes full responsibility for his actions and expressed regret for hurting his family and any individuals and institutions affected by his fraud.
“It was a dumb situation I put myself in,” he said. Nida also provided the court some reasoning behind his ‘dumb’ decisions.
In 2009, Nida had just left prison after five years for federal racketeering charges related to auto title fraud. He and Parks married and she soon signed on to be part of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
He said she was making far more money than him and he felt pressure to keep up. (He cited a $600,000 contract for her but didn’t say how long that was supposed to last.) Without easy legitimate ways to make quick money, he opted for this illegal scheme instead. But he claimed to her he was running a legitimate debt recovery firm and kept her firmly in the dark.
He said he even had a nervous breakdown at one point over the pressures to “sustain a lifestyle” befitting of a reality show star. And once he started the scheme, he found it difficult to stop. “I got sucked in and engulfed and lost sight of things,” he said.
Nida said he often didn’t think about whether this was hurting anybody because he was primarily targeting private businesses and the government, not individuals. And in the case of unclaimed property, what were the odds these folks would ever claim them?
An attempt to open a legal halfway house fell through, he said, because he was on probation for his prior conviction.
“It’s my fault at the end of the day,” he said.
The government press release announcing Apollo Nida’s guilty plea states:
Apollo E. Nida has pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail, wire and bank fraud in a complex scheme spanning over four years, harming over 50 victims, and causing over $2.3 million in losses.
“This defendant participated in a sweeping fraud scheme that exploited many segments of the financial system, including phony claims submitted to federal and state agencies, loans secured by vehicles, and even basic identity theft associated with stolen checks,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “The extensive nature of the fraud is unfortunate and breathtaking. Prosecutions like this case help to highlight the vulnerabilities in the financial system, so that we can prevent future schemes and protect our citizens and government agencies from theft like this.”
“Nida and his conspirators were conniving and creative in their scheme to steal victims’ identities and defraud them. The United States Secret Service will continue to adapt its investigative methodologies to arrest criminals who use their technological savvy to violate unsuspecting victims such as those in this case,” said Reginald G. Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office.
“Many everyday citizens, legitimate businesses and taxpayers have been victimized by this complicated and long running fraudulent scheme. After an intensive investigation with the cooperation of federal, state and local law enforcement, we are very pleased to at long last see this criminal brought to justice,” said John D. Sours, Administrator, Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection.
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Beginning in August 2009, Nida, 35, of Atlanta, Ga., and others conspired to commit mail, wire, and bank fraud. The conspirators obtained stolen checks by stealing them or buying them from other criminal associates. The stolen checks involved in the scheme included United States Treasury Checks, as well as checks stolen from the pension fund of Delta Airlines. Additionally, the conspirators obtained funds by filing fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and making fraudulent claims against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and at least eleven states, all in the names of victims whose identities had been stolen.
Many of these checks were mailed to a large network of mailboxes rented by the conspirators at UPS Stores in the Northern District of Georgia and throughout the nation, for eventual forwarding to the conspirators. The conspirators also obtained fraudulent auto loans secured by vehicles that they had no ownership interest in whatsoever. To convince banks to issue these loans, Nida and his conspirators created fake documents and websites appearing to belong to legitimate auto dealerships.
Once the conspirators obtained the stolen checks, they laundered them through numerous victim financial institutions. Often, the conspirators laundered the checks by opening bank accounts in the names of the payees listed on the face of the checks. This involved impersonating each payee and stealing his or her identity. The conspirators prepared for these impersonations by researching their victims using databases like LexisNexis and Equifax, to which they obtained access through fake collection agencies they had opened as part of the scheme. Sometimes, the conspirators negotiated checks by laundering them in bulk through accounts which appeared to belong to legitimate businesses, such as one in the name “Signature Tax Collections.”
The illegal conduct ended only when agents of the U.S. Secret Service confronted Nida and seized his laptop computer, pursuant to a search warrant, on September 13, 2013.
Assistant United States Attorney Alana R. Black is prosecuting the case.
This case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Georgia Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection.
Nida is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on July 8, 2014. He’s facing up to 30 years for the charges and a fine of up to $1 million dollars (in addition to an estimated $2.3 million in restitution for funds he allegedly defrauded from various individuals, financial institutions and government agencies).
What do you think about news of Apollo’s ‘guilty’ plea?