Thursday, June 13, 2024

Sean Kingston Fraud Charges Explained

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Within a few hours last week, Sean Kingston and his mother, Janice Turner, were arrested on fraud and theft charges, accused of bilking various retailers out of more than $1 million.

Turner was arrested first on May 23 during a raid on Kingston’s rented mansion in South Florida. Not long after, the “Beautiful Girls” singer was picked up on the other side of the country, arrested at Fort Irwin, an Army base in California where he’d been performing. Kingston (whose real name is Kisean Anderson) has since waived his right to fight extradition and will be transferred to Florida where he is facing 10 charges. 

The charges against Kingston and Turner include allegations of defrauding several businesses and banks, as well as passing bad checks. Kingston is also facing a probation violation charge stemming from a previous stolen property trafficking case.

This isn’t the first time such accusations have been leveled against mother and son. Kingston in particular has become rather notorious for not paying his bills. He’s been hit with, and lost, several civil suits over the years, and is currently facing two complaints tied to outstanding balances for luxury watches and an elaborate home entertainment system. Turner, meanwhile, spent time in prison after pleading guilty to bank fraud charges back in 2006.

A lawyer for Kingston, Bob Rosenblatt, has defended his client from the criminal charges, telling NBC News last week, ahead of his extradition, “We want him back [in Florida] ASAP so we can show this is merely a civil case and not criminal. We look forward to challenging this case in court.”

Here’s everything we know about the Kingston case so far.

The Arrests

Janice Turner was arrested after a Broward County Sheriff Deputies and a Davie, Florida police SWAT team raided Kingston’s rented mansion in South Florida. According to reports at the time, authorities were seen loading a van with various items, though it’s unclear what they were taking. 

After Kingston’s arrest in California a few hours later, the Broward Sheriff’s Office issued a statement saying, “This evening, police in Fort Irwin, Calif., arrested Kisean Anderson, aka Sean Kingston, without incident on a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest warrant for numerous fraud and theft charges.”

In between the two arrests, Kingston appeared to address the brewing issue in an Instagram post that was eventually taken down. He reportedly wrote, “People love negative energy! I am good, and so is my mother! … My lawyers are handling everything as we speak.”

The Arrest Warrants and Accusations

The Broward Sheriff’s Office finally revealed some details about the charges against Kingston and Turner after releasing their arrest warrants. The alleged incidents took place between Oct. 2023 and March 2024, with mother and son hit with eight of the same charges, including the overall accusation that they carried out an “organized scheme” to defraud a variety of businesses.

While specifics were not shared, the warrant accused Kingston and Turner of stealing over $86,000 from a furniture store and over $159,000 from a car dealer over a Cadillac Escalade. The biggest charge involved a jewelry store allegedly bilked out of items worth $480,000.

Turner was also accused of a couple instances of identity theft, with Kingston labeled a “principal in committing the crime.” According to the warrants, Turner used someone else’s identity to take over $200,000 from Bank of America, and over $100,000 from First Republic Bank. She also allegedly passed a bad check worth over $44,000, with Kingston allegedly benefitting from the crime.

Kingston was hit with his own identity theft charge as well, accused of defrauding the online banking platform Novo out of $5,000 or more. 

Simultaneous Civil Suit

Back in February, a Florida company called Ver Ver Entertainment sued Kingston, claiming he didn’t pay the the majority of a $150,000 bill he owed for the installation of a massive television (232 inches) and an accompanying sound system. Kingston allegedly told the company that if they gave him a low down payment and credit, he and Justin Bieber would record a commercial for them. Those commercials never happened, and Kingston never paid the remaining $120,000 balance on his bill, according to the suit. 

After the raid and Turner’s arrest, an attorney representing Ver Ver, Dennis Card, told NBC 6 in South Florida, “[Kingston] likes having bling, he likes showing off, he’s a showman. My client has a $150,000 television sound system that’s in there, there’s also about $1 million worth of watches that are in there, there’s a $80,000 custom bed that was ordered. This is an organized systematic fraud.”

He added: “[Kingston’s] got basically a script, he says that he works with Justin Bieber, and that he obviously puts on a big show here, this is a rental house, he doesn’t own it, and he lures people using his celebrity into having them release things without him paying for it and then he simply never pays.” 

Card also clarified that Bieber was “100 percent not involved in this,” adding: “He had the misfortune of doing some work in the past with Sean, and Sean drops his name like crazy.”

Past Incidents

This is far from the first time Kingston and Turner have faced major fraud allegations, though those have largely taken the form of civil suits. In 2015, a custom watch seller successfully sued the pair for $356,000 over an unpaid bill, while a New York jeweler was similarly successful in 2018, suing mother and son for $301,000 over nine items (via The Associated Press).

In his quotes to the press, Card alluded to claims brought against Kingston last year by Dream Watch, a Malaysian luxury watch company that accused the musician of failing to pay for two items: A Richard Mille Model RM 65.01 Automatic and a Patek Phillipe Calibre. Kingston allegedly told the company he’d wire them the funds, then proceeded to make excuses, including a claim that his account had been frozen. 

As of last November, Dream Watch was seeking a default judgement in the case after Kingston allegedly did not respond to the suit.  In February, however the judge approved a request from Dream Watch’s lawyers to vacate the default judgement. According to the Los Angeles County Court website, a hearing is scheduled for later this week. The company’s legal team did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment on the status of the case.

Then there was a Dec. 2020 story in TMZ that reported authorities had put out a warrant for Kingston’s arrest on grand theft charges related to another allegedly unpaid jewelry bill. Police declined to pursue Kingston at the time.

Kingston did ultimately land on probation for a trafficking in stolen property charge. Florida corrections records show Kingston was sentenced to probation in Oct. 2023, while the “offense date” was listed as Oct. 2020. Kingston’s probation — which he’s now been charged with violating — was set to last through Oct. 1, 2025. 

As for Turner, she pleaded guilty to filing false loan applications and committing bank fraud to the tune of over $160,000 in 2006. She ultimately spent a year-and-a-half in prison. 


What’s Next?

On Tuesday, May 28, Kingston waived his right to fight extradition and will be turned over to authorities in Broward County. He did not appear in court over the extradition issue, instead singing papers agreeing to skip any hearings. The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said they would coordinate with authorities on California to return Kingston to Florida. He has been held in the San Bernardino county jail since his arrest. 

Meanwhile, Turner is being held in Broward County jail on a $160,000 bond. She appeared in court last Friday, where her attorney tried to argue for a lower bond, but was rebuffed. Turner was also ordered to hand over her passport. 

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