*Whew! If the real life drama of Apollo Nida, husband to Phaedra Parks, one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” has anything to do with it, the show’s seventh season should be through the roof! Even the best writers would find it challenging to create stuff like this.
Apollo plead guilty to charges of mail, wire and bank fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Tuesday.
He sat in court wearing a light-colored plaid jacket (see drawing rendered below) and accepted charges that could land him in prison for close to three decades, and a fine of up to $1 million on top of restitution for an estimated $2.3 million; which he allegedly defrauded from various individuals, financial institutions and government agencies.
Judge Charles Pannell has set the sentencing hearing for July 8 at 2 p.m.
Alana Black, the assistant U.S. attorney, revealed Nida’s scheme in detail to Judge Pannell. She told him that Nida opened a fake debt collection agency to gain access to databases full of people’s confidential information. He then stole people’s ID and located unclaimed funds such as refunds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, stolen U.S. treasury checks and refunds from fraudulent U.S. income tax returns.
Nida had his co-conspirator, St. Julien, open UPS mailboxes and bank checking accounts using the fake identities; then she deposited the checks and they pocketed the money.
Nida also created fake auto dealerships and then got auto loans for phantom cars.
St. Julien was caught by the U.S. Secret Service – who was working with the state consumer protection agency prior to the agency’s ability to procure Nida’s laptop – which had oodles of evidence that he could not refute.
Nida said in court that he takes “full responsibility for my 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.
In an attempt to justify the actions he took, he said after leaving prison following a five year sentence in 2009 for federal racketeering charges related to auto title fraud, he married Parks, who soon after signed on to be part of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
Because she was making more money than him (he cited a $600,000 contract for her but didn’t say how long that was supposed to last) he felt pressure to maintain his end of the deal. But had no resources to do it legally and opted for this illegal scheme instead.
He said Parks had no idea of his illegal actions as he claimed to her he was running a legitimate debt recovery firm and kept her firmly in the dark.
Nida claims he had a nervous breakdown at one point over the pressures to “sustain a lifestyle” befitting of a reality show star and found it hard to stop once he got started. “I got sucked in and engulfed and lost sight of things,” he said.
“The Real Housewives of Atlanta” wrapped its season with a third reunion show this past Sunday, drawing a best-ever reunion rating of 4.3 million viewers. The Porsha Williams “Watch What Happens Live” right afterwards, kept nearly everyone around: 3.9 million viewers.
Parks is expected to be back on the show season seven, which should be starting production soon.
Since Nida is not expected to go to prison until July, this storyline will definitely play out in front of the cameras.
To read more of this incredible adventure, visit Access Atlanta.com