The husband of Real Housewives of Atlanta’s (RHOA) Phaedra Parks plead guilty on Tuesday to charges of wire, mail and bank fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. This scheme could land Apollo Nida in jail for up to 30 years and a hefty fine of up to $1 million, in addition to restitution obligations. His hearing for sentencing is set for July 8 at 2 p.m.
Gayla St. Julien, Nida’s co-conspirator, helped turn him in after her arrest in September 2013. According to St. Julien, Apollo was the mastermind behind it all. She received a 61 month sentence in March for her participation in the scheme.
The assistant U.S. attorney, Alana Black, told Judge Pannell the entirety of Nida’s scheme. According to Black, he opened a fake debt collection agency in order to gain access to databases which contained individual’s personal information. Once he acquired their information he would steal their identity and find unclaimed funds in their name. Nida found stolen U.S. treasury checks, refunds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and refunds from fraudulent U.S. income tax returns.
The mastermind then opened UPS mailboxes and checking accounts using the stolen identities. He would deposit the checks he received and then pocket the funds. Nida also created fake car dealerships and received auto loans for phantom cars.
In court Nida said he took full responsibility for his actions and said he was sorry for hurting his family and any other affected by his fraud. The U.S. Secret Service, which was working with the state consumer protection agency, initially caught St. Julien. After which, they were able to acquire Nida’s computer which was loaded with evidence he could not contest. Nida said it was a dumb situation that he put himself in.
He went on in an attempt to explain his reason for the scheme. He said when he left prison in 2009, after serving five years, he married Phaedra. Soon after the two united his wife signed on as a cast member of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Nida said he felt pressured to keep up because she was making way more money than he was. He knew of no easy way to make quick money legitimately so instead he opted for this illegal scheme.
Apollo told the court that he kept his wife firmly in the dark by telling her he had a legitimate debt recovery firm. Once he started the scheme and saw the results, he found it hard to stop. He got sucked in and lost sight of things. Nida said he even suffered a nervous breakdown over the pressure to “sustain a lifestyle” comparable to that of a reality show star.
Nida said he did not think this was really hurting anybody because he did not target individuals; he primarily targeted the government and private businesses. He also did not suppose folks would ever declare the unclaimed property. Apollo said he had hoped to open a legal halfway house but due to his probation the deal fell through. At the end of the day it was my fault, said Nida.
Phaedra joined the cast of the RHOA in 2010 and as a result her husband has maintained a recurring presence. Season seven of the reality show will soon start production and Phaedra has already agreed to rejoin the cast. Nida’s next court appearance is not until July so his storyline will no doubt play out on screen giving the viewers great access.
Apollo Nida, husband of Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Phaedra Parks, pled guilty to charges of wire, mail and bank fraud charges on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Nida is looking at serious prison time; his hearing for sentencing is set for July 8.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)