By JODI-ANN MALARBE
Turncoat testimony by Brooklyn rapper Tekashi 69 helped secure the conviction on Thursday of two members of the Nine Trey crew as a federal jury convicted them of several racketeering charges.
The guilty verdicts against Anthony Ellison and Aljermiah Mack came after a two-week trial and eight hours of deliberation.
While Ellison and Mack were acquitted on some of the charges in the July 2018 abduction of the rapper and other offenses, both were convicted on racketeering charges. In addition Ellison was found guilty of kidnapping and Mack of conspiring to distribute drugs.
The sweeping verdict came after the controversial rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, broke a cultural code of silence by testifying against his former associates, prompting such rap icons as Snoop Dog to brand him “a rat”.
The defendants were arrested in November, 2018 .
Hernandez decided to cooperate with authorities shortly after his arrest, ending, for the moment at least, his platinum-selling recording career but helping him avoid a long jail sentence by describing himself as a victim of the gang members who, he testified, kidnapped and robbed him. Hernandez and other gang members pleaded guilty last year to various charges.
The popular rapper made a colorful but compelling figure on the witness stand with his face tattoos and dreads He laid out his first connection to the gang through Chris Ehigiator, his manager in 2014, who introduced him to crew members to build up his gangsta rapper image through use of Nine Trey Blood members in his music videos. Tekashi also testified to his connection to multiple shootings, robberies and hits on rival rappers after he became more affiliated with the gang.
“When I uploaded the video… there was such — like, a lot of people were showing attention to it, ” testified Hernandez. “After we shot (the video) “Gummo,” I knew I had a formula. I knew the formula was to repeat it”
He recounted the events leading up to his kidnapping late last year by his fellow gang members after a dispute over his earnings.
“I was humiliated….,” he testified. “I constantly bragged that nobody could touch me, and I was untouchable, and I was the king of New York.”
If the rapper does manage to alleviate his sentence, he is still up against a lot of opposition not only from his former gang but from the public who have expressed negative and mocking attitudes towards the rapper’s willingness to testify in such detail, resulting in arrests and convictions for both Ellison and Mack and several other tray gang members.
But even with the antipathy building up around Tekashi it is still uncertain if he will be put in a witness protection program. He was scheduled to be sentenced in January.
His lawyer reportedly were angling for him to be sentence only to time served.
Ellison and Mack were scheduled be sentenced in February. Ellison could get life in prison and Mack faced 20 years.