DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Evidence

Screw Rick Ross

Despite denials, records show rap star worked as corrections officer

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Screw Rick Ross

JULY 21--Apparently desperate to distance himself from any affiliation with law enforcement, the rapper Rick Ross has recently denounced as fake photos purporting to show him in a former career as a Florida prison guard. But Department of Corrections (DoC) records show that Ross, whose raps detail the Miami gangster lifestyle and his supposed days trafficking cocaine, did, in fact, work as a correctional officer for 18 months.

Ross (real name: William Leonard Roberts) was appointed a prison guard in December 1995 at a salary of $22,913.54, according to this personnel record, which was provided to TSG by Jo Ellyn Rackleff, a DoC spokesperson. The rapper's social security number is identical to that of the jail guard. According to the official document, Ross was earning $25,794.34 when he resigned in June 1997.

After graduating from the DoC training academy, Ross was assigned to the South Florida Reception Center in Dade County (the lockup is one of three statewide that serves as an intake facility for new prisoners).

When a photo of a uniform-clad Ross surfaced last week on MediaTakeOut.com, the 32-year-old performer claimed to AllHipHop.com that unnamed "online hackers" put "my face when I was a teenager in high school on other peoples' body. If this shit was real don't you think they would have more specifics, like dates and everything?" He added, "Fake pictures are created by the fake, meant to entertain the fake."

The photo, which you can find here, shows a 19-year-old Ross at a DoC ceremony (he was part of the department's 60th graduating class). He is pictured shaking hands with Marta Villacorta, who then headed the South Florida Reception Center. Villacorta, now the department's South Florida regional director, was identified by Rackleff, who examined the photo Ross claims was Photoshopped.

In a recent videotaped interview, Ross replied, "No, that's not true" when asked if he had worked as a prison guard. He claimed that the phony story was being circulated by detractors upset by his success in the rap world, where, "I came out of nowhere and just took over the streets." (2 pages)