Tekashi 6ix9ine has been sentenced to 24 months in prison, with five years of supervised release. He was initially facing 47 years to life in prison, but was given leniency due to his testimony as a state’s witness.
Prosecutors had dropped a gun charge against 6ix9ine just days before the sentencing, reducing the possible minimum to 37 years. The 13 months he’s already spent in custody will count as time served, meaning he’ll have to spend 11 more behind bars. When he’s set free near the end of 2020, he’ll also have to put in 300 hours of community service and pay a $35,000 fine.
The ruling, handed down by Judge Paul Engelmayer, is the culmination of a very public and controversial legal ordeal for 6ix9ine. Born Daniel Hernandez, the rapper was arrested in November 2018 along with a number of associates in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang. They were arraigned on numerous federal charges, including attempted murder, assault, racketeering, conspiracy, firearms offenses, and narcotics trafficking. 6ix9ine initially pleaded not guilty, claiming his gangster image was “an act” to boost his career. However, with the threat of a five-decade prison sentence looming over his head, 6ix9ine eventually changed his tune and struck a deal with prosecutors.
In his plea, 6ix9ine admitted to being involved in an attempt to kill a rival gang member, ordering the shooting of Chief Keef, armed robbery, selling heroin, and other crimes. As part of his deal (his third in a matter of months), the 23-year-old became the state’s star witness and provided ample testimony against his former associates in the Nine Trey Bloods, namely Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack and Anthony “Harv” Ellison. The two men, in addition to a third identified only as Sha, were involved in kidnapping, robbing, and beating 6ix9ine in July 2018 after the rapper fired Ellison as his bodyguard.
While on the stand, Tekashi 6ix9ine spoke freely about numerous crimes he partook in with fellow Nine Trey members. Amongst his revelations were incidents where he ordered an assault on rival rapper Trippie Red and was party to a shooting of Casanova at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. That shooting was ordered by Kifano “Shotti” Jordan, a high-ranking gang member and 6ix9ine’s manager at the time. 6ix9ine also testified that hip-hop stars Cardi B and Jim Jones were Nine Trey members.
In exchange for his cooperation, prosecutors sought a reduced sentence. They also reportedly offered him witness protection, something he rejected in favor of hiring personal bodyguards. Beyond his insanely recognizable facial tattoos, a motivating factor for turning down witness protection was 6ix9ine’s desire to continue his rap career once free. In fact, he allegedly signed a $10 million record contract with his label 10K Projects while still in custody.
Earlier this week, 6ix9ine sent a remorseful letter to Judge Engelmayer asking for a lenient sentence. In the note, he wrote that he still considers himself “a role model to millions of people as an artist, a celebrity and as a human being.” He continued, “I’m truly sorry for the harm that I’ve caused. If given a second chance, I will not let this court down and I will dedicate a portion of my life to helping others not make the same mistakes that I’ve made.”
Those words weren’t enough to save 6ix9ine from a lengthy stint behind bars, however. In his sentencing, Judge Engelmayer argued that 6ix9ine benefited from his association with the gang members (via Inner City Press). “You used Nine Trey as a potent means of getting even with your rivals,” he argued. “You claim you ‘foolishly commingled with members of the gang,’ but it’s more than that. The attacks would not have happened without you.”
“I reject the portrait of you as a passive participant,” the judge continued. “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.”
In one particularly striking moment, Judge Engelmayer referenced Bruce Springsteen in discussing 6ix9ine’s artistic license and why it did not afford him added legal protections. “It’s a common motif… Bruce Springsteen sang about Murder Incorporated, you essentially joined Murder Incorporated,” the judge said.
“Your choice to join Nine Trey was unnecessary. I see a lot of gangs members… 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 you 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 advise of security people, and presumably lawyers and accountants.”
“The worst part is over,” Judge Engelmayer told 6ix9ine. “There is a great deal to be admired about you. You’re learned a hard lesson here. I wish you very, very well.”