Apollo Nida, the ex-husband of former Real Housewives of Atlanta star Phaedra Parks, received an eight-year sentence by a federal court judge on July 8, 2014. The reality star was sentenced to the lengthy term for his four-year scheme involving bank, mail and wire fraud and ID theft of more than 50 individuals estimated at $2 million.
According to Atlanta’s AJC, Judge Charles Pannell could have given Nida anywhere from 92 to 115 months for his crimes. Due to his cooperation, the government opted on the lower end of those sentencing guidelines, giving him 96 months. During the hearing, Pannell went slightly above the 92 months partly because white collar criminals of his kind tend to have a high rate of reoffending. He cooperated with authorities, which helped reduce his sentence.
At the federal courthouse, AJC reported that Nida had said, “The government did what they had to do.” Asked if he was unhappy about the sentence, he said, “Whatever the judge gave.”
The day of the sentencing, Reginald G. Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office, said in a press release, “Today’s sentencing exemplifies impartial justice regardless of economic class or perceived celebrity status. Nida’s sentence should be an eye opener for other like-minded criminals who scheme to steal victims’ identities, defraud them and ignore the consequences of their actions.”
During the sentencing, Nida’s attorney Thomas Bever argued that he deserved a reduction in time due to his poor upbringing. However the judge said that given Nida’s age, which is 35-years-old, his childhood was not a reason to get less time.
At the sentencing hearing, Nida apologized for his behavior. “I want to apologize to the victims,” he said. “I want to apologize to my family for letting them down.” Nida and Parks have two sons together.
This is not Nida’s first stint in jail. He was in prison for six years, from 2003 to 2009, for a racketeering charge related to a car theft scheme. Soon after his release, he started up his new white-collar criminal actions after he got out of prison. During his May sentencing, he claimed that he created the white collar crime to keep up with his wife’s high-profile attorney income and “Real Housewives” salary. He also said that given his record finding a legitimate job was difficult.
During the trial, Nida’s attorney brought up Nida’s half brother Michael Derrick and Nida’s mom Katrina Toohey who said on the stand that she was not a good mother and was addicted to drugs. She said her son watched her get beaten by a boyfriend and overdose on cocaine.
However, Alana Black, the assistant U.S. attorney, argued that Nida had been given a second chance at life in 2009 when he married the very successful Parks, whom he began dating in high school. But the attorney insisted he squandered away his second chance when he went back to the white-collar crimes that got him in prison the first time.
According to legal documents filed against him in January 2009, Nida opened a fake debt collection agency to gain access to databases full of individual’s personal information. He would then steal people’s ID and find unclaimed funds, refunds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, stolen U.S. treasury checks and refunds from fraudulent U.S. income tax returns.
Nida hired a woman named Gayla St. Julien to open UPS mailboxes and bank checking accounts and use those fake identities to deposit those checks, then collect on the money. Eventually, Nida created fake auto dealerships to get auto loans for fake cars. St. Julien was eventually caught and led authorities to Nida. St. Julien was ultimately sentenced to just over five years.
Following his sentence, Parks announced plans to divorce Nida in October 2014. The two eventually reached a divorce settlement in 2017.