FBI casts doubts on Akon's criminal past

The Senegalese singer likes to boast of his criminal 'credentials'. But according to US reports, he's never actually done any serious bird

The clang of a jail door slamming shut is a signature sound in Akon's chart-topping music and, commonly, it's followed by the Senegalese singer uttering the word "convict", signifying the three years he apparently spent in a Georgian prison for charges relating to a car theft ring. It's a nifty trick, reminding people of his criminal credentials to boost a hardman image, and if record sales are anything to judge by, it has worked.

The only problem, according to a lengthy report on The Smoking Gun website, is that his criminal past seems to have been fabricated.

According to the investigative website, Akon, real name Aliaune Thiam, did not run a "notorious car theft ring", as he has claimed numerous times in interviews, and nor did he serve jail time for the crimes that supposedly inspired his 2004 debut album Trouble.

The site, which regularly posts public documents relating to everything from unreported crimes to outrageous band riders, is seeking to debunk what it claims are the numerous "exaggerated, embellished or wholly fabricated" stories which Akon has perpetuated throughout his four-year career.

Chief among these "wholly fabricated" tales is that Akon, whose breakthrough single Locked Up was apparently penned while he was in prison, has never served an actual jail sentence. "While the performer's rap sheet does include a half-dozen arrests, Akon has only been convicted of one felony, for gun possession," the article states. "That 1998 New Jersey case ended with a guilty plea, for which the singer was sentenced to three years probation."

The article goes on to say that the singer spent some time in DeKalb county jail in Georgia while awaiting prosecution for possession of a single stolen BMW, but that all charges were dropped after "several months".

Among the other dubious areas of Akon's life, the "exaggerated" ones perhaps, is the singer's age. A Rolling Stone article reported that he was born in 1981, making him 27 years old, however the Smoking Gun puts his age at either 35 or 36.

The issue of whether Akon has multiple wives is also one of his alleged "embellishments". The singer has regularly skirted round the issue of whether he really does have three wives, as is commonly reported, or not. However he recently told Blender magazine that the story was just him "playing with the media".

Recent reports that Akon's dad is a blackbelt in karate and will come round your house and do you in with roundhouse kicks if you say anything about his son have also not been substantiated.*

It is with his criminal history that the Smoking Gun is most concerned. The site has gone to considerable lengths to prove that Akon was never the mastermind behind a "notorious car theft operation", including interviewing FBI agent Peter McFarlane, who has worked on auto crime cases in Atlanta since 1972.

"Ah, this is bullshit. This guy is so phony. He's an arrogant SOB," McFarlane reportedly told the site when questions about the singer's car-ring legacy were put to him. "I don't think he had any role besides (wanting) to drive a high-dollar vehicle. And I say this because we didn't link him to any other cars."

Akon has yet to respond to the website's report, which was published yesterday. The Smoking Gun says numerous calls placed to Akon's management and record label, Atlantic, were not returned. Calls made by the Guardian to the singer's European label Universal were not immediately returned.

Click here to read the Smoking Gun article.

* In keeping with the spirit of things, we made this bit up.


Rosie Swash

The GuardianTramp

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