the law

Tekashi 69 Got Out of Jail Early Because of the Coronavirus

Tekashi Photo: Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage

Tekashi 6ix9ine was released from federal lockup early because of coronavirus concerns, and will serve the rest of his sentence on home confinement, a new court filing has revealed. “The Court grants the defendant’s motion for compassionate release,” Manhattan Federal Court Judge Paul Engelmayer said in a ruling released Thursday. An official with knowledge of the situation said he has left jail. Court documents reveal that Engelmayer had reached his decision on Wednesday. Prosecutors asked Engelmayer not to post his decision until 4 p.m. today, however, saying that a delay “will allow law enforcement agents to ensure that Mr. Hernandez is transported safely and securely from the facility where he is currently housed to a residential address previously approved by the Probation Department,” court filings reveal.

The road to his early release was winding.

The rapper, real name Daniel Hernandez, was initially set to get out of jail around early August. Last week, however, his lawyer Lance Lazzaro asked Engelmayer to release him early, claiming Hernandez’s asthma made him particularly susceptible to COVID-19, which spreads through the kind of close contact that’s inherent in jails and prisons.

Engelmayer had initially denied Hernandez’s petition, saying he “lacks the legal authority” to green light early release at that time. The judge further said he was “constrained” and couldn’t act on Hernandez’s request, writing that early release was up to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

At the same time, Engelmayer expressed concern for Hernandez, writing that he “did not know and could not have known that the final four months of Mr. Hernandez’s sentence would be served at a time of a worldwide pandemic to which persons with asthma, like Mr. Hernandez, have heightened vulnerability…”

“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,” Engelmayer said in his ruling.

So what changed in the course of a week?

Lazzarro had asked the Bureau of Prisons for “compassionate release.” Court papers revealed that the Bureau of Prisons denied this request. Bureau of Prisons authorities said that because Hernandez was actually in another agency’s custody, at a private facility in Queens, they couldn’t evaluate his request.

As a result, Lazzaro took the matter up with Engelmayer again.

Engelmayer said Wednesday that the Bureau of Prisons’ denial enabled him to step in, prompting his intervention. Hernandez’s home confinement will be “enforced by GPS monitoring,” Engelmayer also said in his decision.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendant must remain at his residence except to seek any necessary medical treatment or to visit his attorney, in each instance with prior notice and approval by the Probation Department,” the judge also noted.

After Hernandez’s sentence is up, he still has another five years of “supervised release,” Lazzaro said.  This means that Hernandez has to follow the law to stay out of jail.

“We’re very happy with the judge’s decision to let him go home,” Lazzaro told Vulture.

Hernandez isn’t the only celebrity inmate who cited coronavirus in a move to get out of jail: R. Kelly, who’s behind bars as his sex abuse and racketeering case winds through the courts, has asked for bail because of coronavirus.

Lawyers for Kelly, 53, claimed he was “within the group of people the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention … has categorized as most-at-risk for contracting COVID-19, a dangerous illness spreading rapidly across the world.” (The CDC claims that risk is heightened for adults that are 65 and over.)

This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

Tekashi 69 Got Out of Jail Early Because of Coronavirus