NEW YORK – Tekashi 6ix9ine, the flamboyant Brooklyn rapper who pleaded guilty to racketeering and testified against several former gang associates, was sentenced to 2 years in prison on Wednesday.
His attorney Lance Lazzaro had asked the court to sentence him to time served, saying that he has a limited criminal history and that he provided "extraordinary assistance and cooperation with the government," according to a court filing. He gave the government an "insider's view" of the Nine Trey gang, Lazzaro wrote, and even testified in court against two fellow gang members.
Prosecutors formally requested in a sentencing memo that 6ix9ine, born Daniel Hernandez, receive a reduced sentence because of his testimony and information.
Still, they argued he and other gang members "wreaked havoc" in public places around New York City, including a March 2018 shooting in Times Square, an April 2018 shooting at the Barclay's Center, and a June 2018 shooting at the W Hotel in Times Square.
Two victims of an April 2018 armed robbery filed victim impact statements to the court saying that the attack, orchestrated by 6ix9ine, had caused severe stress and left them in constant fear for their lives.
"Why should this person, who nearly ended my life, be free when I am not free?" one victim, an unnamed 33-year-old man, wrote in court filings.
The sentencing is a concluding chapter in the startling rise and dramatic fall of 6ix9ine. The 23-year-old burst onto the rap scene with "GUMMO" in October 2017, and particularly its music video . With 360 million views on YouTube, the video shows the rainbow-haired, face-tattooed rapper surrounded by guns, drugs, stacks of cash and a group of people wearing red, the color associated with the Bloods gang.
But Hernandez was not actually a gang member when that video was made. He has said he used the Nine Trey gang to boost his street cred, and in exchange, he helped fund the gang's operations, according to the government sentencing memo.
After the success of "GUMMO," which peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, he continued making music and collaborated with Nicki Minaj on their 2018 song "FEFE."
6ix9ine apologized for 'misrepresenting myself'
But his career came to a screeching halt last November when he was charged alongside other alleged members of the gang known as Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods with serious federal charges including racketeering. US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey S. Berman said the gang " wreaked havoc on New York City , engaging in brazen acts of violence."
6ix9ine pleaded guilty to nine charges in February, including racketeering, and informed on his associates, according to court documents. He testified as a witness during the trials of Anthony Ellison and Aljermiah Mack, who were both convicted of felonies, Lazzaro wrote.
In a letter to the judge filed last week, 6ix9ine apologized for his crimes, for joining the gang and for "misrepresenting myself" to his fans.
"I now know that I am remorseful for what happened because I was blessed with the gift of an opportunity that most people dream of but I squandered it by getting involved with the wrong people and misrepresenting myself when I should have been true to myself and my fans," Hernandez wrote.
"I'm sorry to the victims who were affected by my actions, to my fans who look up to me and were misled, to my family who depends on me and to this courtroom for this mess that I contributed to."
Lazzaro portrayed Hernandez as a young man who joined the Nine Trey gang to promote his rap career and support his family.
"Mr. Hernandez is a rap artist who foolishly joined the Nine Trey Gansta Bloods (hereinafter "Nine Trey") in an attempt to promote a gangster persona which would help him sell his music and advance his career," Lazzaro wrote in the filing.