Music

Tekashi 69 Has Reportedly Been Sentenced To Two Years In Prison

In September, Tekashi 69 expressed hope that his federal case would have a favorable outcome and that he would be out of prison by early 2020. Recently, there has been evidence to suggest that Tekashi could actually be free before that. Tekashi’s sentencing was today, and while Tekashi’s lawyer asked for a sentence of time served and three years supervised release, the rapper will reportedly instead spend more time in prison.

Journalist Matthew Russell Lee (who posts on Twitter as Inner City Press) was reporting on the scene, and he reported that Judge Hon. Paul A. Engelmayer sentenced Tekashi to 24 months in prison, with five years of supervised release, as well as 300 hours of community service and a $35,000 fine. Engelmayer said:

“Mr. Hernandez, your sentencing has attracted a lot of attention, but the factors are the same as on anyone’s. […] Mr. Hernandez, I’ve given it a lot of close thought, including your cooperation. The following are my thoughts, and this is going to take a little while. You are in custody for 13 months. I agree you deserve a great deal of credit for cooperation. However, I cannot agree with your counsel that time served it appropriate. In my judgment, your conduct is too violent and selfish to make 13 months reasonable. You will not be going free today.

For the better part of a year, you were part of a violent gang. So that there is no misunderstanding, here is a specific account of those act. First came Trippie Redd… You decided to shoot at a member of Trippie Redd’s entourage. Jordan fired into the sprinter van, in the Times Square area. It is a matter of sheer luck that an innocent person or people was not wounded or killed. When you pled guilty, you admitted to attempting to commit murder. On April 3, 2018, with a record label in Texas [Rap-a-Lot]. You drove to 40th Street and 8th Avenue. Kifano Jordan robbed the musicians at gunpoint.

You took the backpack and it was found in your home. As it happened, the musicians surrendered easily. But they might not have. Later, outside a restaurant when people yelled ‘F*ck 69.’ Jordan struck them with a firearm. Then at the Barclays Center. You and Casanova were beefing. Your song ‘Billy’ was a response. [Song was played at trial, half of it.] You inflamed matters by posting a video mocking Casanova.

“Next was Chief Keef, He was in New York, you were in LA. You offered $20,000 to shoot at Chief Keef outside W Hotel. You later gave $10,000. Then you were in LA. A rival was live streaming in Smurf Village. Jordan offered to shoot, you said OK. In that incident in Smurf Village, a woman was shot in the foot — LL who we heard from today. Next was Snow Billy — Aaron Young shot him and I sentenced Aaron Young to 20 years. The woman, Sky, whose backpack was stolen and video of whom you put online, said this.

Apart from the number and vengefulness of these attack, there’s also that they were to benefit you. Before you, the gang didn’t fight with rap entourages. They had no independent interest in going after musicians and their management groups. You used Nine Trey as a potent means of getting even with your rivals. You claim you ‘foolishly commingled with members of the gang’ — but it’s more than that. The attacks would not have happened without you.

Shotti said he carried an assault rifle to protect you from the beefs you started. He was recorded by Jorge Rivera saying this. You didn’t shoot, but you are responsible. And so, I reject the portrait of you as a passive participant. You told the US Probation Department you were brainwashed by the gang. That might be partially true. But the relationship was symbiotic. They got something out of it. But so did you [Engelmayer slows the words down: So. Did. You.]

Your first crime, use of a child in a sexual performance, you said the same thing, that older acquaintances were having sexual intercourse with the underaged girl. That excuse may have worked once, but it doesn’t work twice. You have not been charged with using the members of the gangs as extras. You used them to much effect in ‘Gummo.’ It was your artistic license to do that. You are not being sentenced for that.

Bruce Springsteen sang about murder. You essentially joined… Your choice to join Nine Trey was unnecessary. I see a lot of gangs, like a 76 defendant Bronx case. They fell in at a young age. That excuse is not available to you. By the time you began with Nine Trey, you were a nationally famous rapper. You had a prosperous future. Your counsel says he joined to break out of poverty. I am not buying that. You were set. As a result of your musical career, you could have gotten the advice of security people, and presumably lawyers and accountants. I have sentenced hundreds of defendants for gang activity. Your daughter had nothing to do with your decision.

But for your cooperation, you would get a very long sentence. When you began to cooperate in November 2018, some incidents the government didn’t know about. But it knew about a lot. The April 3 robbery. The two April 18 shootings. Your driver had been cooperating for many months against you… The attack on Frenchy’s van was captured on security video. I therefore conclude that one way or another the full range of your conduct would have come to light.

Your cooperation was courageous. The danger to you is multiplied by your music career, which I understand you intend to continue. The fact that you are unusually recognizable does not help you. You met with the government 26 times, reviewing social media messages and decoding them. Your cooperation enabled the government to take down a violent gang, beyond the six including [those] you named in the initial indictment.

You testified at the trial this fall, I saw you straining to make sure you were measuring your words right. You testified in harsh glare of nationwide publicity. There were two other cooperators. But you squarely implicated the two defendants. The jury’s two not guilty verdicts on firearms charged did not implicate your testimony. If have little doubt if the jury were asked if a firearm had been brandished during your kidnapping, they would have said yes. And today you apologized. I have no doubt that the process of cooperation has for you been cathartic.

For all these reasons you deserve a very substantial reduction, and you will receive [one]. I followed some of the commentary during the trial, I took much of it in good fun. I appreciated the memes, whether at your expense or mine. But I need to say, Nine Trey was violent, not to be glorified. Cooperation of criminal insiders is a necessary tool. Imagine the members of Nine Trey free today. There was the slashing victim. Anyone of use could have been in Times Square, or the Barclays Center, or in the street, with Kifano Jordan, or [Aaron] Young.

You are world famous for cooperating. No gang will want to work with you. Everything I’ve seen suggests to me this has been a searing experience for you. You have squandered 13 months so far… I do not expect you to be tempted to commit violence again. If you do, I am the judge in your case. And your economic self-interest. You have struck a lucrative deal. The situation is unusual. You are very fortunate. You will land on your feet.

So far your story appears to prove that there is no such thing as bad publicity… In the end my judgment is that 13 months is not enough. I’ve considered other 5k sentences, in gang violence. 13 months is outside the mainstream. Mr. Hernandez, if you expected to be released today, you will be disappointed. But you were wise to cooperate. Your cooperation will result in years more liberty.

Mr. Hernandez, please rise. It is the judgment of the court you are to serve a term of 24 months in prison, with five years of supervised release. I impose 300 hours of community service when you get out, and a fine of $35,000. Mr. Hernandez, the worst part is over. There is a great deal to be admired about you. You’re learned a hard lesson here. I wish you very very well. We are adjourned.”

According to Lee, Tekashi said to the judge before the decision:

“Your Honor, I really don’t know where to start. [Pause]. This past year, I can’t describe it. I wrote something down. I know we haven’t had the chance to speak. I denounced being Nine Trey before the arrest. I was aware that the mother of my child was having sexual relations with Kifano Jordan. Via text messages. I was already kidnapped by Anthony Ellison. The booking agents were stealing hundreds of $1000s.

I am not a victim. I put myself into this position from Day One. I allowed them in. That was my decision. To the lady who came forward, Ms. LL, I don’t know you. I’m sorry for what happened. I know that throwing my money at a situation is not the best result. But whatever medical bills you want me to pay, I will. I’m sorry that happened to you.

I was in third grade the last time I saw my biological father, a f*cking glance I took, sorry. I wrote a letter, I’ll read it. [Voice changes] I know there is no apology that can kill off the pain we have all been affected by. I’m not perfect. I made a lot of bad choices but that does not make me a bad person. If you told me in January 2017 I’d be a global star, I’d call you crazy. If in January 2018 you’d tell me I’d be part of a federal indictment, I’d call you crazy… Since the age of 14, when I lost my father. At 15, 16, 17, I’d see my mom wake up early. I wanted to prove something to the world. I wanted the world to see me as an example, that you are in control of where you go. I used my platform to push the message, ‘If I did it, why can’t you?’ I gave people hope.

Your honor, a 5 year old boy named Franklin was dying of cancer. He wanted to meet me. I asked myself, Why? But I went. Cancer had disabled the right side of his body. I told him how strong he was. I realized I was not just a kid with rainbow hair and 69 tats — Franklin told me I was hope. Then I met another girl named Tati. She broke out of her shell. It was September. The family was struggling. I took them school shopping for the year. Tati told me, if I can be strong, they can be strong. When people see me, they don’t only see Tekashi 69, the arrogant… I’m a human, I got organs just like everyone in this room. They see Daniel Hernandez, not Tekashi 69.

I failed these kids, the millions of kids, my own kids, I haven’t spoke too, the whole time incarcerated. It will be a priority of mine to visit low income families. I failed these people. They believed in Daniel Hernandez. I was too busy making the negative image in my 69 persona. I know God has a bigger plan for me. I want to inspire the youth that it never too late to change. If I can change for the better, so can they. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I lost my father to violence. I grew up with no guidance. It was me, I live it, so I know.

Your Honor, allow me to inspire people. Not only the young people here, but the millions around the world listening and watching.”

This sentencing follows rumors that Tekashi would be released from prison today. Moe Gangat, an employment lawyer based in New York City, said in a widely circulated video, “Look for Tekashi to get out this Wednesday, December 18th, with a sentence of time served. When it’s all said and done, he’s likely to have served just under one year in federal prison. The way federal sentencing works is the government tells the judge what sentence the person should get. Here, the government hasn’t asked for any sentence, and when the government doesn’t ask for any sentence, what they’re saying is: Time served, no sentence. […] There is absolutely no reason the judge will give anything other than time served.”

Find Lee’s tweets about the sentencing below.

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