By Terrance Turner
Dec. 15, 2022 (first drafted May 10, 2022)
Rapper Gunna is free.
“Gunna has been released from jail after he pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge in a sweeping gang indictment against him, rapper Young Thug and several other alleged members of the Young Slime Life criminal street gang,” per WSBTV.
“The rapper entered a negotiated plea, known as an Alford plea, in which a defendant doesn’t admit he committed the crime, but acknowledges that it is in his best interest to plead guilty. The charge Gunna faced was one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Act.”
Gunna will not serve any time. His plea deal carried a five-year sentence, with one year in prison. That one-year sentence was commuted to time served. The remaining four year balance was suspended. He must complete 500 hours of community service.
Rappers Young Thug and Gunna remained in jail after a judge denied bond for Gunna (aka Sergio Kitchens) on May 23. According to reporter Jewel Wicker, who was at Monday’s hearing, Gunna’s trial date was set for Jan. 9, 2023.
Gunna’s defense attorney, Steve Sadow, proposed a list of conditions for the rapper’s bond. They included a $750K secured bond, house arrest with electronic monitoring, forfeiture of three properties. And Gunna’s parents would also put up their homes, per WSB-TV. But the judge denied bond and sided with prosecution, expressing concern overcome the safety of witnesses. Judge Ural Glanville delayed the decision about bond for Young Thug.
Thug and Gunna were named in a 56-count indictment in Fulton County, Georgia. Young Thug was arrested on May 9 and remains in the Fulton County Jail. Gunna (real name Sergio Kitchens) was arrested two days later. News of the indictment was broken by WSB-TV reporters Michael Seiden and Mark Winne on May 9. (WSBTV is an Atlanta news station affiliated with ABC.) Seiden tweeted the news at 8:30 pm that night; he proceeded to provide more details via his Twitter account.
The 56-count grand jury indictment charges 28 members and associates of Young Thug’s record label Young Slime Life (YSL). The indictment claims, “YSL is a criminal street gang that started in late 2012 in the Cleveland Avenue area of Atlanta, Georgia. YSL claims affiliation with the national Bloods gang.” YSL’s founders are listed as Jeffery Williams (aka Young Thug), Walter Murphy (aka “DK”), and Trontavious Stephens (aka “Slug”).
“As associates of the enterprise Young Slime Life (hereinafter “YSL”), the defendants conspired to associate together and with others for the common purpose of illegally obtaining money and property through a pattern of racketeering activity,” the indictment reads.
Racketeering is a type of organized crime in which perpetrators set up a coercive, fraudulent, or otherwise illegal scheme to make a profit. According to CNN, the term covers a wide range of crimes including bribery, arson, and murder. “Simply put, racketeering means engaging in an illegal scheme.”.
The Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO” for short) is a federal law enacted by Congress targeting organized crime and the engagement in an ongoing pattern of racketeering. The RICO Act was originally established to prosecute Mafia activity. But today it’s often used to investigate white-collar criminal activity in business operations, according to the Federal Appeals Law Firm.
“If you have committed at least two acts of racketeering activity within two years, you can be charged with racketeering,” per the firm. But Young Thug and his associates allegedly committed a lot more than that. As outlined in the indictment and reported by WSB-TV, YSL is accused of a slew of illegal activities:
- “Preserving, protecting and enhancing the reputation, power and territory of the enterprise through acts of racketeering activity including murder, assault and threats of violence;
- Preserving, protecting and enhancing the reputation, power and territory of the enterprise by the posting of messages, images, videos and songs, demonstrating allegiance to the enterprise and a willingness to engage in violence on its behalf;
- Maintaining armed individuals ready and willing to preserve, protect and enhance the reputation, power and territory of the enterprise through the use of violence;
- Obtaining money, weapons and other property through acts of racketeering activity, including robbery, theft and the unlawful sale and distribution of drugs;
- Obstructing law enforcement investigations and court proceedings through witness intimidation and attacks upon law enforcement officers.”
Lyrics A Liability?
Much of the charges against Thug are based on social media posts and his often-violent rap lyrics. Using rappers’ lyrics as evidence is a controversial practice and caused support to grow for Thug in the rap world. But the 88-page indictment also contains some serious charges.
Thug is accused of renting a car used in the 2015 murder of 26-year-old Donovan Thomas. The indictment claims a silver Infiniti Q50 sedan from Hertz Rent-a-Car was used “in the commission” of the murder.
He’s also implicated in at least one attempted murder — of rival rapper YFN Lucci. The two have a long history.
According to XXL magazine, Young Thug and YFN Lucci’s beef started in 2017, when Thug called himself the new Tupac. And Lucci took exception tweeting, “Pac would’ve never wore a dress,” along with a clown emoji. Thugger fired back on Twitter, but the tension appeared to end there.
In 2018, Young Thug reignited the beef by threatening to slap YFN Lucci. “I’mma slap the hell outta y’all little n–gas,” he said on Instagram. In 2019, Lucci made disparaging remarks about Thug’s So Much Fun album. Thug responded on Instagram, “@yfn if ain like what u do for your mother and kids I WOULDVE BEEN KILLED U.”
He went further than that.
Murder by Hire?
YSL associate Jayden Myrick is charged with possession of a weapon by an inmate (a felony) for having a shank while at the Fulton County Jail in February 2022. Myrick, along with Kahlieff Adams and Damekion Garlington, is charged with attempted murder for stabbing Lucci with a shank on Feb. 9. YSL associates Christian Eppinger and Antonio Sumlin are charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They committed “by discussing how to obtain the permission of ‘Slime’, aka Jeffery Williams, to make a second attempt to murder Rayshawn Bennett, aka YFN Lucci, while Rayshawn Bennett was incarcerated at the Fulton County Jail,” per page 60 of the indictment.
Williams and Kitchens are also accused of selling drugs. “Defendants Sergio Kitchens and Jeffery Williams, associates of YSL, did commit the felony offenses of POSSESSION OF METHAMPHETAMINE WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE” — a violation of Georgia law — per the indictment. The two are also charged with possessing marijuana and oxycodone (an opioid used to treat pain) with intent to sell in Sept. 2017, according to page 32 of the indictment.
Williams is also accused of making terroristic threats. On July 7, 2015, Christopher May attempted to inform Williams that he was no longer welcome at Perimeter Mall (a shopping mall in Dunwoody, a northern Atlanta suburb). Williams allegedly said, “If you continue to approach me, I’ll shoot you in the face with a gun.”
He apparently had more than one. When Thug was arrested in his home in Buckhead, Atlanta on May 9, federal authorities raided his home. They found multiple firearms on the premises. That led to Thug being hit with seven more charges.
According to Complex, “The additional charges include possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, possession of firearm during commission of a felony, possession of sawed-off-shotgun, sawed-off rifle, machine gun, dangerous weapon or silencer, and three charges of unlawful participation in criminal gang activity while employed by/associated with a criminal street gang.”