Rossi Lorathio Adams II had big plans to turn risque photos and footage of drunken bad behavior into a social media empire.
In 2015, as a student at Iowa State University, Adams, who went by the nickname “Polo,” founded State Snaps, a series of social media accounts that showcased scantily clad women and pictures of partying college students — a mash-up of “Girls Gone Wild” and MTV’s “Jackass.” Adams egged on his followers with State Snaps’s own catchphrase: “Do it for State!” The formula appeared to be working. On Instagram, State Snaps had gathered more than 1.5 million followers, and the accounts created enough stir that Iowa State administrators objected publicly to the content.
But according to federal authorities, Adams began to believe one roadblock was standing between State Snaps and Internet entrepreneurial success. Although the website was registered at doit4state.com, Adams could not pry the domain rights for doitforstate.com from an unnamed individual who owned the address.
The aggressive push for the sought-after domain name would lead Adams and an associate down a path of threats and intimidation to a bloody June 2017 incident involving gunshots and a Taser at a home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
According to the Justice Department, last week a jury found Adams, 26, guilty of charges related to the incident. He now could face up to 20 years in prison.
It started in June 2015. According to documents filed by federal prosecutors in court, that month Adams showed up unannounced at the Cedar Rapids home of the individual who owned the doitforstate.com domain, listed in the filings only as “E.D.” Adams had tracked down the address through the domain’s listing on GoDaddy.com, a popular registrar for Internet addresses and web hosting company.
Adams told E.D. he wanted to buy the domain. But “E.D. indicated he was not interested in selling the domain name,” court records say.
Over the next two years, Adams continued to press E.D. to sell the domain. According to court filings, E.D. eventually just stopped responding, but the requests continued. E.D. allegedly offered to hand the domain over for $20,000, but Adams balked at the number.
The bubbling confrontation was soon edged with potential violence: Adams allegedly sent one of E.D.'s friends a message with gun emoji, according to prosecutors.
Then in May 2017, Adams again showed up without warning at E.D.'s door. The man’s brother answered, according to court documents. Adams was wearing a State Snaps T-shirt, and he punched his fist into his other hand.
“I’m here for the name whatever it takes,” Adams said, according to court documents. “I’m not leaving without it.”
But he did leave empty-handed.
A month later, however, Adams devised a new way to get the domain — this time involving a gun.
On June 17, 2017, Adams tapped his cousin, Sherman Hopkins, Jr., a felon then living in a homeless shelter, to help get the website domain. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Hopkins’s past run-ins with law enforcement included charges of domestic abuse, assault, drunken driving and perjury.
Federal authorities say Adams gave Hopkins a stolen gun a Taser, and written instructions about how to transfer an Internet domain from one GoDaddy account to another. Hopkins pulled pantyhose over his face, put on dark sunglasses and a hat, and broke into E.D.'s house.
E.D. was upstairs when he heard someone bust into his house, according to court filings. From the top of his stairs, he saw Hopkins below.
“Come here!” the intruder shouted, using an expletive. E.D. slammed shut his bedroom door, leaning his weight against it so Hopkins could not enter. But the intruder kicked in the door, and dragged E.D. at gunpoint to his computer.
Using the written instructions from Adams, Hopkins forced E.D. to log into his GoDaddy account and transfer the domain name. He pistol-whipped and used the Taser on E.D. throughout the process, court documents say.
“This better be right,” Hopkins told E.D., according to court records. “You better do this right. You know who you stole from. If you go to the police or tell anyone about this I’ll be back for you.”
With a cocked handgun at his head, E.D. “quickly turned to move the firearm away from his head,” according to court records. The two men began to fight for the gun. It went off, hitting E.D. in the leg. Still, he managed to twist the gun away from Hopkins, then shot the intruder “multiple times in his chest” before calling 911.
Hopkins survived his injuries, and by the next month, Adams was also in police custody.
In June 2018, Hopkins was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of interference with commerce by threats and violence, the Gazette reported.
Adams, facing the same charge, went on trial last week. According to a statement from the Justice Department, after a four-day trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict after deliberating for an hour.
His sentencing has yet to be scheduled, but he faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
State Snaps appears to still be active and posting new videos of drunken exploits. A message for comment on Adams’s conviction and clarity on who is now operating the site was not immediately returned.
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