While Tekashi 6ix9ine looked dour during his arraignment for racketeering charges in Manhattan Federal Court today, the judge’s interest in rap rivalry provided brief comedic relief during the otherwise glum proceedings.
Tekashi 6ix9ine, whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, pleaded not guilty to six counts at the hour-long proceeding, during which prosecutors rehashed much of the evidence in charging papers against him.
But when prosecutors discussed two alleged altercations on April 21, the courtroom came to life. They recounted how Hernandez and his crew arrived at the Barclays Center that evening for his planned performance at a boxing match, where he was scheduled to perform the opening song for one of the fighters. A rival rapper was set to introduce the other boxer, prosecutors said. When Hernandez’s crew ran into some rivals at the arena, one of his crew allegedly opened fire into the air.
“So the gang rivals were singing for different boxers?” Judge Paul Engelmayer asked, prompting chortles throughout the courtroom.
Engelmayer then asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Longyear whether the performances went as planned.
Longyear said no.
“Who sang the intro songs?” Engelmayer continued.
“I don’t have that information,” Longyear replied.
Another incident that occurred earlier that day involved Hernandez and now-axed manager, Kifano “Shottie” Jordan. They were leaving a Brooklyn restaurant when two men hurled insults at the pint-sized rapper. Hernandez and Jordan drove away in their SUV and the men who had harangued them followed. Jordan allegedly left his SUV, ran toward the men’s car and fired two rounds, prosecutors have alleged.
The strange repartee contrasted drastically with Hernandez’s demeanor. A shackled Hernandez entered the courtroom sporting jailhouse blues. He was seated in the third row of the jury box, so there was a row between him and three co-defendants who were placed in the front. (Prosecutors claimed last week that Hernandez might have been the target of a planned hit.)
The charges against Hernandez relate to his alleged membership in the Bloods subset Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods (which he’s liberally admitted to on social media). Prosecutors have alleged that Hernandez participated in a number of violent crimes that fit the gang’s M.O.
Engelmayer also asked about the mention of Nine Trey–linked murders in the indictment, asking whether those charged were implicated in any killings.
“The government has no knowledge of actual murder at this point,” Longyear said.
Longyear revealed that evidence against Hernandez is culled extensively from social media, including his Instagram.
“It’s quite voluminous,” Longyear said.
Data gleaned from Hernandnez’s cell phones, including one device examined when he was returning to the U.S. from an international trip, will also be used against him.
Longyear further revealed that a confidential informant had made recordings that are part of their case, prompting one distressed attendee to loudly whisper “shit.”
The proceeding went on without any additional drama, though Hernandez’s former manager, who is also a co-defendant, offered supporters a brief monologue after it ended.
“I love all my family,” Jordan said. “We don’t fall. We don’t bend. We don’t break.”
Hernandez’s lawyers confirmed after the hearing that he had been moved out of Brooklyn federal jail to another facility in Queens for safety concerns.
Asked how Hernandez is faring behind bars, lawyer Dawn Florio said, “He’s safe, but not happy to be in jail.”
Engelmayer set a date for the trial to begin on September 4, 2019.