Social Media Influencer Sentenced to 14 Years in Federal Prison after Plotting to Hijack Internet Domain
Planned an Armed Home Invasion after Owner of “doitforstate.com” Refused to Sell
A man who enlisted his cousin to break into a Cedar Rapids man’s home and order him at gunpoint to transfer an Internet domain was sentenced today to 14 years in federal prison.
Rossi Lorathio Adams II, age 27, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, also known as “Polo,” received the prison term after an April 18, 2019, jury verdict finding him guilty of one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats, and violence.
The evidence at trial showed that Adams founded the social media company “State Snaps” while a student at Iowa State University in 2015. State Snaps operates on a variety of social media platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. 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. In 2015, a Des Moines area television station aired a news segment in which Adams, who in the interview would only identify himself as “Polo,” was continuing to operate his social media sites despite the objections of Iowa State University administrators and the policies of the social media platforms.
Adams’ followers often used the slogan, “Do It For State!” Adams tried to purchase the Internet domain “doitforstate.com” from a Cedar Rapids resident who had registered the domain with GoDaddy.com. Between 2015 and 2017, Adams repeatedly tried to obtain “doitforstate.com”, but the owner of the domain would not sell it. Adams also threatened one of the domain owner’s friends with “gun emojis” after the friend used the domain to promote concerts.
In June 2017, Adams enlisted his cousin, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., to break into the domain owner’s home and force him at gunpoint to transfer doitforstate.com to Adams. Hopkins was a convicted felon who lived in a homeless shelter at the time.
On June 21, 2017, Adams drove Hopkins to the domain owner’s house and provided Hopkins with a demand note, which contained instructions for transferring the domain to Adams’ 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 victim was upstairs and heard Hopkins enter the home. From the top of a staircase, the victim saw Hopkins with the gun on the first floor. Hopkins shouted at the victim, who then ran into an upstairs bedroom and shut the door, leaning up against the door to stop Hopkins from entering.
Hopkins went upstairs, kicked the door open, grabbed the victim by the arm and demanded to know where he kept his computer. When the victim told Hopkins that he kept his computer in his home office, Hopkins forcibly moved the victim to the office. Hopkins ordered the victim to turn on his computer and connect to the Internet. Hopkins pulled out Adams’ demand note, which contained a series of directions on how to change an Internet domain name from the domain owner’s GoDaddy account to one of Adams’ GoDaddy accounts.
Hopkins put the firearm against the victim’s head and ordered him to follow the directions on the demand note. Hopkins then pistol whipped the victim several times in the head. Fearing for his life, the victim quickly turned to move the gun away from his head. The victim then managed to gain control of the gun, but during the struggle, he was shot in the leg. The victim shot Hopkins multiple times in the chest. He then contacted law enforcement.
Adams was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Adams was sentenced to 168 months’ imprisonment. He was ordered to make nearly $9,000 in restitution. Adams was also ordered to pay costs of prosecution in the amount of $3,957.45 and to repay the Court $22,000 in attorney fees. Adams had court-appointed counsel during trial, but the Court later discovered Adams was earning significant amounts of money while the case was pending. Adams must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
This case is also part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/ag/page/file/1217186/download.
Adams is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Timothy L. Vavricek and Matthew J. Cole and investigated by the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 18-CR-86-CJW.
Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.