Tekashi 6ix9ine pleads not guilty; racketeering trial won't start until September

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine pleaded not guilty to federal racketeering and firearms charges in court Monday.

Bail was denied, and a trial date was set for September 4. At this point, it appears he may stay behind bars until a jury renders a verdict.

The rapper, whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, is among five people indicted last week on charges that he directed or participated in violent acts as part of a deadly gang. Late last week, he was transferred from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn for safety concerns.

The lawyer representing the rapper said his client has been getting death threats and needed to be transferred to an undisclosed facility.

At MDC Brooklyn, Hernandez was placed in the general population.

Related: Prosecutor releases photos he says show rapper Tekashi69 involved in multiple violent acts

On Wednesday, defense attorney Lance Lazzaro said in a statement that his client was "completely innocent of all charges." The indictment alleges that the violent episodes involving 6ix9ine included the July shooting of a bystander in Brooklyn and the gunpoint robbery of one of the gang's rivals last spring.

"An entertainer who portrays a 'gangster image' to promote his music does not make him a member of an enterprise," Lazzaro said. "Mr. Hernandez became a victim of this enterprise and later took steps by firing employees and publicly denounced this enterprise through a morning show. Threats were then made against his life which resulted in this case being brought immediately."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Longyear said the rapper did not renounce his membership to the gang and that 6ix9ine would have been arrested anyway, but the timetable was sped up when authorities learned that he planned to go to a Connecticut casino where it would be harder to protect him from the threats.

Longyear said the threats were overheard on phone calls intercepted Saturday by investigators, including one in which an individual was heard saying that gang members wanted to "super violate him."

The prosecutor noted that violence seemed to surround the entertainer. He said 10 shots were fired into a Beverly Hills, California, home where he was filming a music video a week ago.

Tekashi69 has been one of the most ascendant and controversial names in hip-hop in recent months. His debut album, Day69, was among the most downloaded records on iTunes following its February release.
But he also has had a series of run-ins with law enforcement and has publicly identified himself as a member of a violent New York gang. He recently pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in Brooklyn Criminal Court in connection with a May traffic stop.

In a 2015 case in New York, Tekashi69 was sentenced to probation for his involvement in a sexually explicit video of a 13-year-old girl.

The video, posted on social media, showed the girl performing a sex act on another man while Tekashi69 "stands behind the child making a thrusting motion with his pelvis and smacking her on her buttocks," according to court documents.
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