An Iowa social media influencer has been sentenced to 14 years behind bars for masterminding a violent plot to “hijack” a website domain name from another man at gunpoint.
Rossi Lorathio Adams II, 27 — who often goes by the name “Polo” — was handed down the sentence in federal court Monday for the ill-fated plot that ended with two men shot, according to a statement from the Northern District of Iowa U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Adams gained notoriety after he started the social media company “State Snaps” while he was a student at Iowa State University in 2015. The company posted photos of college students engaging in “crude behavior, drunkenness and nudity” on social media platforms including Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Despite objections from the university, the site quickly grew to having over a million followers, with Adams regularly using the slogan “Do It For State!”
The success of the company led Adams to try to secure the domain name “doitforstate.com” but the site was owned by a Cedar Rapids man who wasn’t interested in selling, the Justice Department said.
For two years, Adams repeatedly harassed the owner, even sending a message to the domain owner’s friend with “gun emojis,” but he decided to take his efforts to another level in June 2017 when he enlisted his cousin, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., to break into the domain owner’s home and threaten him at gunpoint.
Hopkins broke into the domain owner’s home—wearing pantyhose on his head, a hat and dark sunglasses—after Adams had driven him to the home and given him detailed instructions about transferring the domain name to one of Adams’ accounts.
The victim heard Hopkins, who had been living at a homeless shelter at the time, break in and quickly fled to an upstairs bedroom where he slammed the door. But Hopkins broke into the room and forced the unidentified man at gunpoint to his computer.
With the gun pressed against his head, Hopkins ordered the man to follow the directions in a demand note to transfer the domain, prosecutors said.
Hopkins continued to threaten the man, even pistol-whipping him multiple times in the head.
The victim began to fear for his life and decided to fight back by wrestling for the gun. As the two struggled, the victim was shot in the leg but still managed to gain control of the gun. He shot Hopkins multiple times in the chest before calling 911.
In April of this year, a jury found Adams guilty of one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats and violence for plotting the “hijacking” attempt. In addition to his 14-year sentence in federal prison, he will also have to serve three-years of supervised release after he completes the sentence and pay $9,000 in restitution, according to the Northern District of Iowa U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Hopkins survived his gunshot wounds and was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year, The Des Moines Register reports.
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