A 27-year-old social media influencer was sentenced to federal prison Monday for an armed plot to threaten a man in an effort to obtain a website domain name.
Rossi Lorathio Adams II was found guilty for one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats, and violence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa. Adams plotted to intimidate the unnamed owner of a domain name and “hijack” the website, the attorney’s office said.
Adams started a social media brand called “State Snaps” in 2015 while attending Iowa State University, operating on various social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.
“At one time, Adams had over a million followers on his social media sites, which mostly contained images and videos of young adults engaged in crude behavior, drunkenness, and nudity,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
When he attempted to buy the doitforstate.com in 2015, since many of his followers use the slogan “Do It For State!,” he found it was already purchased.
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The influencer made repeated efforts between 2015 and 2017 to obtain the domain name but the owner refused to sell the rights to doitforstate.com, according to prosecutors.
In June 2017, Adams asked his cousin, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., to break into the domain owner’s home and threaten him at gunpoint until he complied. Adams drove his cousin, a convicted felon, to the house and provided him instructions on how to transfer the domain rights to his GoDaddy account.
“When Hopkins entered the victim’s home in Cedar Rapids, he was carrying a cellular telephone, a stolen gun, a taser, and he was wearing a hat, pantyhose on his head, and dark sunglasses on his face,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors said the victim saw Hopkins with the gun on the first floor and ran into a bedroom upstairs. Hopkins then kicked open the bedroom door before forcing him into the home office where the man’s computer was.
Hopkins then held the man at gunpoint and told him to follow the instructions to transfer doitforstate.com’s ownership to one of Adams’ accounts.
“Hopkins then pistol whipped the victim several times in the head,” the prosecutor’s office said. “Fearing for his life, the victim quickly turned to move the gun away from his head.”
The man got control of the gun but was shot in the leg during a physical struggle with Hopkins. He shot Hopkins in the chest and called the police, prosecutors said.
A judge sentenced Adams to 168 months in federal prison with three years of supervised release. He is also ordered to pay $9,000 in restitution in addition to prosecution costs. Adams is currently in federal custody.
Adams must also pay $22,000 for a court-appointed attorney he used prior to the discovery that he made “significant amounts of money while the case was pending,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Hopkins status in the criminal case in unclear.