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Mental evaluation ordered for alleged hip hop scammer

Mental evaluation ordered for alleged hip hop scammer

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A judge ordered a mental evaluation Friday for a man charged with scamming Virginia Commonwealth University into thinking he was arranging for an appearance on campus by popular hip hop artist Big Sean.

Jerez S. Coleman, 19, was scheduled to be tried Friday in Richmond Circuit Court on a charge of identity theft/fraud, but defense attorney William Efird asked Judge Bradley B. Cavedo to postpone the matter until his client could be evaluated.

Efird told the judge he had spoken repeatedly with Coleman.

“I’m not sure we’re really getting to the heart of the issue,” Efird said of his talks with his client.

Cavedo arranged to have Coleman evaluated to determine not only his competence to assist in his defense but to determine if he was sane at the time of the alleged crime.

Caitlin R. Kelly, the prosecutor, said Coleman portrayed himself as a well-connected executive producer in the hip hop world and went to elaborate lengths when he contacted VCU to set up a Dec. 10 event at which Big Sean would speak with students.

The university, Kelly said, was understandably receptive to an engagement featuring Big Sean because the artist had already performed at VCU, appearing in February 2012 as part of homecoming festivities.

Kelly said Coleman arranged to have a limousine transport him to the Dec. 10 event, which was free but for which VCU students needed to first obtain tickets.

Coleman went into the auditorium and spoke with the students for several minutes using a fake British accent, passing himself off as a British producer.

At that point, the VCU students were told that Big Sean had another engagement elsewhere and would not be coming to speak with them, Kelly said.

In addition to VCU not getting its promised speaker, the limousine service was not paid, Kelly said.

Kelly said authorities are investigating whether Coleman is responsible for similar incidents at other schools, including one in Maryland.

Coleman has given authorities several addresses, including in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Washington, D.C., where he is currently living with a grandmother while he is free on bond.

Cavedo scheduled another hearing for Aug. 8 to get the results of the competency evaluation.


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