6ix9ine released from prison early over coronavirus risk

Tekashi 6ix9ine performs at 2018 Power105.1 Powerhouse NYC at Prudential Center on Oct. 28, 2018 in Newark, N.J. Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, was ordered immediately freed from a Manhattan federal prison four months early on Thursday by a judge who cited his asthma and the greater danger he would face behind bars during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer made the ruling a day after telling lawyers on both sides that he intended to do so.

Click to play video: 'What is racketeering? Rapper 6ix9ine pleads not guilty to RICO charges'
What is racketeering? Rapper 6ix9ine pleads not guilty to RICO charges

Engelmayer cited “a raging and virulent pandemic that has entered federal prisons in New York City.” Prosecutors did not oppose the action.

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“In light of the heightened medical risk presented to Mr. Hernandez by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are extraordinary and compelling reasons to reduce Mr. Hernandez’s sentence,” he said.

According to court documents, 6ix9ine, who was expected to be released July 31, will remain under house arrest for the next four months under supervised release and will be subject to electronic monitoring.

Until then, the FEFE rapper can visit only his lawyer or a doctor. His lawyer said he was diagnosed in October with bronchitis and sinusitis.

Last week, Engelmayer said he would have sentenced the 23-year-old performer to home confinement rather than prison when he announced the sentence in December had he known then of the novel coronavirus.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 survivors answer viewers’ questions'
COVID-19 survivors answer viewers’ questions

6ix9ine’s lawyer, Dawn Florio, told Complex the rapper is allowed to release new music during his time in home confinement.

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“Yes, he can release music,” she said.

“What he’s gonna do is, he already has that advance for [record label] 10K Projects,” Florio explained. “So he has to put out a Spanish album and an English album. So that’s what he’s going to be working on.”

Florio also revealed to the outlet that 6ix9ine is allowed to go on social media under one condition.

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“So far, I haven’t seen any restrictions about him not being able to go on social media,” she said. “Obviously, it has to be in good taste. No more trolling.”

The Gummo rapper was sentenced to two years in prison plus five years of supervised probation on federal racketeering charges on Dec. 18, 2019 in Manhattan federal court.

6ix9ine could have been sentenced to decades in prison for his entanglement with the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods and for crimes that included orchestrating a shooting in which an innocent bystander was wounded.

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The 23-year-old rapper pleaded guilty in February 2019 to charges accusing him of joining the gang.

In January 2019, 6ix9ine began co-operating with federal prosecutors after pleading guilty to nine crimes and saying he had joined a violent New York City gang and helped others try to kill a rival gang member.

After his arrest, the Stoopid rapper shed the outlaw reputation he’d curated online and testified against his gang mates earlier this year, causing some to label him a “snitch.” The testimony helped to convict two high-ranking Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods members.

“Your co-operation was impressive. It was game-changing. It was complete and it was brave,” Engelmayer said as he announced the rapper’s sentence, which is far lower than federal guidelines for the crimes, in a Manhattan courtroom.

Prosecutors have described Nine Trey as one of the most violent outgrowths of United Bloods Nation, which has members throughout the country. 6ix9ine relocated his family before his co-operation became publicly known, and then he was moved to a different prison facility and a unit with no gang members, the government said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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— With files from the Associated Press

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