Cedar Rapids, Iowa man who tried to steal internet domain sentenced to 14 years

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A man who recruited his cousin to break in to a Cedar Rapids man’s home and force him at gunpoint to transfer an internet domain was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison.

Rossi L. Adams II, 27, of Cedar Rapids, also known as “Polo,” was convicted in April of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats and violence. The jury deliberated about an hour following a four-day trial.

Evidence showed Adams founded a social media company called “State Snaps” while he was a student in 2015 at Iowa State University. 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 sites, which mostly contained images and videos of young adults engaged in crude behavior, drunkenness and nudity.

His followers used the slogan, “Do It For State!” So Adams tried to buy the internet domain “doitforstate” (dot com) from a Cedar Rapids man who had registered it with GoDaddy.com.

Between 2015 and 2017, Adams repeatedly tried to get the domain, but the owner wouldn’t sell. Adams threatened one of the owner’s friends with “gun emojis” after the friend used the domain to promote concerts.

In June 2017, Adams persuaded his cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr., 43, to break into the domain owner’s home and force him at gunpoint to transfer the name to Adams. Hopkins was a felon who lived in a homeless shelter at the time.

A plea agreement for Hopkins showed he was wearing a hat, sunglasses and pantyhose on his head and was armed with a 9 mm pistol when he broke into the home of Ethan Deyo. Deyo ran upstairs to a bedroom and tried to prevent Hopkins from entering, but Hopkins kicked in the door.

Hopkins then threatened Deyo with the handgun, forcing him to log onto his computer and transfer “doitforstate” (dot com) to Adams, according to court records.

Hopkins “pistol whipped” Deyo several times and pulled out a Taser to shock him in the arm, back and neck.

At that point, Hopkins held the gun to Deyo’s head and threatened to kill him if the transfer wasn’t correct, court documents show.

Deyo pushed the gun away but was shot in the leg during the struggle. Deyo then got the gun and shot Hopkins multiple times in the chest.

Hopkins, convicted of interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence, was sentenced last year to 20 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams sentenced Adams to 168 months in prison and ordered him to pay nearly $9,000 in victim restitution. Williams also ordered him to pay $3,957 for costs of prosecution and $22,000 in attorney fees.

Adams had a court-appointed lawyer during his trial, but later the court discovered Adams was earning significant amounts of money while his case was pending.

He also was sentenced to three years of supervised release after prison.

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