NEW YORK – Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was deemed a likely danger to the community and denied bail Monday after a prosecutor said there was evidence that he directed or participated in multiple acts of violence as part of a deadly gang.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman concluded an hour-long hearing by citing “troubling” corroborating evidence offered by a prosecutor to show that 6ix9ine directed or participated in multiple acts of violence over the last eight months.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Longyear said a backpack stolen during a gunpoint robbery in April was found during a raid at the rapper’s Brooklyn residence, along with an automatic pistol.
“The defendant is quite violent,” the prosecutor said of the 22-year-old rapper, whose debut album, “Day69,” was among the most downloaded records on iTunes.
Longyear said 6ix9ine was captured on surveillance video as he sat in a car and filmed the scene in Times Square when his co-defendants carried out a violent robbery against a rival gang member.
The prosecutor said he was also part of a video boasting about shots recently fired by a co-defendant in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Longyear also said the rapper was a threat to flee because of his worldwide connections, hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and the knowledge that a conviction would bring a mandatory minimum sentence of 32 years in prison and as much as life.
Pitman ordered 6ix9ine held until a Tuesday bail hearing, saying he was concerned about the danger to the community, particularly because the rapper could direct others to carry out acts of violence.
6ix9ine was among six people charged in a federal grand jury indictment containing racketeering and firearms charges. The indictment alleged that he participated in the July shooting of a bystander in Brooklyn and the gunpoint robbery of one of his gang’s rivals last spring.
The rapper’s lawyer, Lance Lazzaro, said 6ix9nine – whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez – posed no threat and denies directing or playing any other role in violence.
“An entertainer who portray’s a ‘gangster image’ to promote his music does not make him a member of a (criminal enterprise),” Lazzaro said in statement emailed on Wednesday.
Lazzaro said his client had fired some of his co-defendants as part of his management and security team last week and was offered protection by federal agents on Saturday after some of them were overheard on wiretaps threatening his life.
After the rapper refused protection, he was arrested on Sunday.
The federal RICO statues (for Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations) date from the late 1960s and were originally inspired by the illegal activities of traditional organized crime groups such as the Mafia.
In recent years, federal prosecutors have increasingly turned to racketeering statutes to bring charges against other defendants whose alleged crimes fit the parameters of the RICO statutes, said James Cohen, a law professor at Fordham University in New York who has practiced in both state and federal courts.
All of the crimes Tekashi 6ix9ine and his co-defendants are accused of are also crimes in New York. The advantage of pursuing federal charges instead of state charges, Cohen said, is that federal courts are viewed as more sympathetic to prosecutors.
“The rules of evidence are not vastly different, but they’re different enough in certain ways so that prosecutors get the benefit,” Cohen said. “Federal courts are seen as a more sympathetic venue, I think most lawyers will tell you that.
“The second factor is that sentencing is, generally speaking, harsher in federal court,” Cohen added. “So as soon as you get the conviction, you can get more time – get more bang for your buck.”
6ix9ine has been one of the most ascendant and controversial names in hip-hop in recent months.
In addition to “Day69,” he is also known for the multiplatinum hit “Fefe” with Nicki Minaj, which peaked at No. 3 on the pop charts, and “Stoopid,” featuring the incarcerated rapper Bobby Shmurda.
But 6ix9ine also has had a series of run-ins with law enforcement and has publicly identified himself as a member of a violent New York gang, 9 Trey Bloods, which was mentioned throughout the indictment as a criminal “enterprise.”
Prosecutors said the gang carried out acts of murder, robbery and narcotics trafficking in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn since at least 2013.
The indictment said each gang member was required to participate in at least two acts of racketeering conspiracy. Those acts could include murder, robbery, extortion and drug distribution, the court papers said.
6ix9ine recently pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Brooklyn Criminal Court in connection with a May traffic stop. In a 2015 case in New York, 6ix9ine was sentenced to probation for his involvement in a sexually explicit video of a 13-year-old girl.
Contributing: Maria Puente, USA TODAY
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