Update: Tekashi has been sentenced to two years in prison. Read our original post below.
Tekashi 6ix9ine is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday morning, at 10 a.m., in Manhattan Federal Court for crimes related to the Nine Trey Bloods, his former gang. While Nine Trey, an East Coast Bloods offshoot, helped propel him to fame with the release of “Gummo” — providing him street cred by participating in the music video — his involvement also led to a dramatic downfall. The polarizing rapper legally named Daniel Hernandez could now go to prison. Here’s the rundown of everything to know about his bizarre journey from an upstart performer to a 23-year-old who’s facing a possible (though unlikely) life sentence.
How did Tekashi’s case start?
In November 2018, the feds arrested Hernandez and a bunch of his purported Nine Trey associates on racketeering and firearms charges. Federal prosecutors claimed that they conspired as part of a “criminal organization” which made use of violence and drugs to maintain power.
Major courtroom drama unfolded after Hernandez’s arrest. Prosecutors dropped the bombshell allegation that several of his ex-pals might have been plotting a hit on him. Per prosecutors, investigators picked up info through wires that several people wanted to “super violate” him and that “certain high ranking members of the Bloods had authorized violence.”
Wait, why did he plead guilty?
Hernandez copped to nine federal counts under a cooperation deal with the feds, in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence. If Tekashi played ball and did “successfully cooperate,” prosecutors said they would file paperwork moving for a sentence “below any mandatory minimum,” which at the time of his plea was 47 years. Prosecutors also noted “witness protection may be required at a later date.” (TMZ has claimed Hernandez turned down witness protection so he can keep pursuing music; he’s already signed a record deal with his former label, 10K Projects, worth a reported $10 million for two albums, one in English and one in Spanish.)
When Hernandez explained why he was guilty, he said he joined Nine Trey in fall 2017, claiming that “as a member of Nine Trey, the enterprise engaged in such activities including shooting at people, robbing people, and at times drug trafficking.” He also appeared to cop to his role in the Chief Keef shooting in summer 2018.
Did he really snitch?
Yes. So much that the hashtag #Tekashisnitch9 took off.
In September, Hernandez testified in the racketeering case against two purported Nine Trey members: Anthony “Harv” Ellison and Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack. On the first day of his testimony, Hernandez pointed out alleged Nine Trey members who were in his videos for “GUMMO” and “KOODA.” Hernandez claimed that Jordan showed him how to do the Nine Trey handshake and that Nuke taught him how to make the sign. He also said that rapper Trippie Redd was in another Bloods gang, Five Nine Brims.
On day two, Hernandez said that rapper Casanova was part of “another” Bloods sect, and that Chief Keef was with the Black Disciples. He went into detail about how Nine Trey members attacked Trippe Redd at his hotel in November 2017 following a rap beef. He claimed that his pals wound up robbing Rap-a-Lot Records associates near Times Square in spring 2018. Hernandez also gave detailed testimony that Ellison kidnapped him at gunpoint on July 22, 2018. (Ellison was found guilty of kidnapping Hernandez, and Mack was convicted of distributing drugs. Both were found guilty racketeering conspiracy and face up to life sentences in federal prison.)
Day three of Hernandez’s testimony, however, was the craziest: He said that Dipset rapper Jim Jones was in Nine Trey, and that Cardi B was a member of the Bloods.
So, is Tekashi going to jail?
We won’t know until Wednesday. There’s a lot of speculation that Hernandez, who’s been locked up since his arrest last year, will get “time served” because he cooperated so much. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Under the law, Hernandez faces a minimum of some four decades locked up. Because Hernandez stuck to his plea agreement, however, prosecutors last week formally recommended a reduced sentence. They said Hernandez was “both incredibly significant and extremely useful,” and that he “provided an insider’s view of Nine Trey and a first-hand account of many acts of violence that [prosecutors] otherwise did not have.” They also said “Other gang members and those in the rap industry have criticized him for cooperating and have openly questioned whether the defendant’s safety could ever be guaranteed” and that “There is no question that the defendant’s life will never be the same because of his cooperation in this case.”
But the plea deal — and request for leniency that was part of it — isn’t binding. This means Hernandez’s sentence is ultimately up to the judge.
What, exactly, is the argument for Tekashi’s release?
Hernandez’s lawyers have asked for a sentence of time served because of this cooperation. His mother, Natividad Perez-Hernandez, and girlfriend, Rachel “Jade” Wattley, also asked for the judge to show mercy, noting that he is his family’s primary financial provider.
“I plead with you today, to listen to a mother who knows her son best,” his mother wrote in a letter to the judge, describing him as kind and a good provider for his family. “I know his heart better than any news reporter, record label or fan. I know him sometimes better than he even knows himself.”
“I assure you, that locking up my son, Daniel Hernandez, is an injustice to my family, who relies on him for financial, emotional, and physical support,” she continued, saying it would also be unjust to his daughter and “the many families that he continues to help because his heart will never stop loving people.”
“We need more young people like him who put themselves last to give to others,” she said. “Please don’t judge him by his looks or even the mistakes he had made.”
In her letter, Wattley said that when she met Hernandez, “he was nothing like how the internet portrayed him to be. He was the total opposite. He was exceptionally respectful, outgoing, very sweet, kind-hearted and a genuine generous person.”
Hernandez also asked for mercy himself, writing in a letter to the judge, “It honestly feels like my world is crashing down.”
And the argument for him to go to prison?
Two victims of the spring 2018 robbery also submitted letters to the court, urging the judge to consider them when handing down Hernandez’s sentence.
One victim, who identified himself as a 33-year-old New York City resident, said he was hired to follow publicist Skyy L. Daniels and her client during their last day in the city. When they left the THISIS50.com studios in Midtown, he and Skyy were “assaulted at gunpoint by a group of masked men.”
“I am ex-military and seen my share of violence but never have I been so scared as the cold, hard metallic gun was pressed against my abdomen,” he wrote in his letter to the judge, also noting that he has since given up being a publicist. He continued:
“As much as I want to say how fast it happened, I cannot because in that moment, my life flashed before my eyes. I was not going to be able to say goodbye to my mother… All I thought was, ‘What did I do to deserve this?’ What was moments seemed like an eternity burning in fiery pits as I was frozen and watched my compatriots by assaulted and robbed along with me.
“Everyday of my life I live in constant fear that someone (his goons/supporters/constituents) will be sent to finish the job. It hurts me so much. I did choose to be there, but, I, like Skyy did not deserve to be attacked, endangered and then humiliated across multiple social media platforms: Instagram, YouTube and Twitter for example, where security footage and video from Tekashi69’s phone has accumulated views in the millions. Please think about me and think about my life when you sentence this person. Why should this person, who nearly ended my life, be free when I am not free?”
In her letter, Skyy said: “I am a mother and grandmother first and it is so hard to describe what it feels like to survive that occurrence. How much is my life worth? How much was my assistant’s life worth? Did I deserve to die, hundreds of thousands of miles away from my grandchildren?”
“I feel that Daniel Hernandez, Tekashi, is liable and should be held legally and monetarily responsible for emotional distress, damages, losses and so much more,” wrote Skyy, who gave up her work and went so far as to leave her home state of Texas out fear. “I pray that you can find it in your heart to help this innocent grandmother and recent widow and young man find peace from this entire ordeal and get my life back.”
What happens after the sentencing?
If Hernandez gets time served, he would get out on Wednesday. According to a U.S. Marshals Service rep, authorities would need to check to make sure there weren’t any additional outstanding warrants or detainers elsewhere, but if there weren’t, a person sentenced to “time served” would walk right then. (Another pending case against Hernandez in Texas, where he was accused in 2018 of assaulting a 16-year-old fan at a mall, was dismissed last month.) He could also get out on supervised release, meaning he’d periodically have to check in with a probation officer and stay out of trouble to stay out of jail.
And if Hernandez gets sentenced to prison, it’s not clear where he’ll go. A veteran criminal defense lawyer predicts that if he does wind up going to prison — which he believes is highly unlikely due to all of Hernandez’s cooperation — it would be a minimum security facility. The judge could make a recommendation to the Bureau of Prisons, but it’s ultimately up to them where Hernandez winds up.
This post has been updated throughout.