Jenifer Thee Lewis. That’s it—that’s the lede.
Now, as for the rest of this article, I have something to report! According to KTLA, a Santa Monica, Ca., man named Antonio Wilson (with aliases, “Dr. Tony Mariot” and “Brice Carrington”) was sentenced to eight years in prison on Tuesday for conning three women out of their money, including Lewis. Wilson, who pleaded guilty last year to wire fraud, will also be responsible for paying $272,000 in restitution.
Wait, what? Yes. This happened.
According to prosecutors, the 58-year-old man duped the three women, persuading them to invest money in his sound design company named Ultimate FX and software business named 2nd Life. Wilson had met Lewis at a gym where he was a manager and the two reportedly engaged in a romantic relationship—which provided Wilson the opportunity to scam the Black-ish actress.
In May of last year, Lewis took to social media to officially comment on the matter.
“WE FINALLY CAUGHT HIS ASS!!!” Lewis captioned on Instagram. “It took 5 years, but we finally did it. We caught the man who conned me out of $50,000. Sometimes justice DOES prevail.”
Lewis sued the gym and settled for $13,000. The singer-actress also appeared on Good Morning America where Lewis described him as “charming” and “handsome.”
Wilson’s attorney released a statement at the time denying there was a relationship between his client and Lewis noting, “There were no romantic overtures by Mr. Wilson to Ms. Lewis at any point in time. Any accusations to the contrary are mere conjecture…”.
In the GMA interview, Lewis noted she was “humiliated” by the experience, but wanted to make sure to support the other women who came forward and make a point that this could happen to anyone.
More info on Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, via KTLA:
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson described Wilson’s behavior as “vicious,” according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
“Predator is not usually a term referred to in the fraud context, but it is an apt description here,” the judge said.
To create a “false sense of prestige,” Wilson claimed to be a Navy SEAL, an Oxford University graduate and an “Oxford professor teaching a course on biblical antiquities at UCLA,” the U.S. attorney’s office statement said.
Yikes! Well, in Lewis’ case, she has said (and sang) for a while that she doesn’t want nobody fuckin’ with her in these streets. Why? Because ain’t nobody got time for that (ta-ha-ha!).
The Root has reached out to Jenifer Lewis’ representatives for comment on this most recent matter and are awaiting response.
Update: 3/11/2021 at 1:48 p.m. ET: We have heard back from Jenifer Lewis’ manager, who confirmed that Lewis declines to comment on the matter at this time.