Tekashi69 was released from prison early Thursday due to fear of the coronavirus. The 23-year-old, born Daniel Hernandez, was sentenced to two years in prison for various crimes in connection with a street gang. He was set to be released in August.
Lance Lazzaro, the rapper’s attorney, confirmed to the New York Times that his client will serve the next four months in home confinement. Tekashi69 — also known as 6ix9ine — has asthma, which Lazzaro argued makes him especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Lazzaro said the musician was treated for shortness of breath in the last week, but was feeling better. The coronavirus is spreading quickly throughout jails and prisons in the United States.
In November 2018, Tekashi69 was arrested on firearms and racketeering charges. He eventually agreed to cooperate with the government and testify against his former associates in the gang Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. He pleaded guilty to string of gang robberies and shootings. He was sentenced to two years in prison in December 2019, but got credit for time served.
"Your cooperation was impressive. It was game-changing. It was complete and it was brave," U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer announced at sentencing. He noted that many artists sing about organized crime, citing Bruce Springsteen's song "Murder Incorporated."
"You, Mr. Hernandez, essentially joined Murder Incorporated," Englemayer told the court.
Last week, Judge Engelmayer agreed with Lazzaro that coronavirus posed a risk to the rapper’s health. He wrote in a guidance to the Bureau of Prisons: “Had the Court known that sentencing Mr. Hernandez to serve the final four months of his term in a federal prison would have exposed him to a heightened health risk, the Court would have directed that these four months be served instead in home confinement.”
Tekashi69 expressed remorse prior to sentencing.
“I’m not a victim. I put myself in this position from Day One,” he said before crying. “I made a lot of bad choices in life, but that does not make me a bad person.”
In a letter read to the court, he added, “I'm happy that the public was able to witness me dealing with the consequences of my actions because I feel like it sheds a light on what can come from gang affiliation.”
Tekashi69 is best known for his song “FEFE” with Nicki Minaj. The music video has over 800 million views on YouTube. Last year, he signed a $10 million record contract, according to the Times, prior to sentencing.
The rapper rose to fame with a controversial past and made no secret of his gang ties. In 2018, he was sentenced to probation for a conviction stemming from the use of a child in a sexual performance. Explicit videos were taken and posted to his Instagram that involved a 13-year-old girl. The incident occurred when he was 18.
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