Instagram Influencer Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison
The US Department of Justice announced on Monday that a social media influencer, Rossi Lorathio Adams II has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. Rossi, who went by the name “Polo,” was sentenced for concocting a scheme to violently coerce a stranger into giving up a web domain name.
Polo ran various accounts across Instagram and other platforms known as State Snaps while attending college at Iowa State University. The accounts, which Adams began operating around 2015, typically involved depictions of risky or sexually explicit behavior, often featuring college girls. According to The Washington Post, one account Adams ran on Instagram had amassed 1.5 million followers.
Adams became increasingly frustrated that he did not own doitforstate.com, a reference to a popular hashtag “#DoItForState” on social media which the influencer often used in comments and captions to invoke the type of behavior he would later post about to millions of fans online. The domain name “doitforstate.com” was in fact owned by Ethan Deyo with whom Adams had no prior affiliation.
Adams attempted to purchase the domain name over the course of two years but failed as Deyo had no intention to sell it. At one point, Deyo did offer the name to Adams for $20,000, but Adams felt the amount was too high. Instead of giving up on his quest to own doitforstate.com, Adams turned to intimidation. He sent a gun emoji to one of Deyo’s friends via text, and also at one point showed up to the man’s door.
In 2017, Polo hired his cousin, a convicted felon named Sherman Hopkins, Jr. who then lived in a homeless shelter, to break into the Deyo’s home and threaten him at gunpoint to transfer the name. Hopkins obliged. He showed up at the man’s home with a taser and a pistol while disguised with a pair of pantyhose over his head and black sunglasses on his face. Hopkins also had a list of detailed instructions for how Deyo could transfer the name to Adams. After being shot once in the leg, Deyo wrestled the gun out of Hopkins’ hands. He then shot Hopkins numerous times in the chest. Both men survived.
Hopkins was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2017 to one count of interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence. Adams was convicted in a jury trial in April of this year of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats, and violence. He was only just sentenced this week.