Fetty Wap Sentenced to Six Years After Pleading Guilty to Drug Charge
Fetty Wap was sentenced to six years in prison Wednesday, May 24, after pleading guilty last year to a drug charge last year, The New York Times reports.
The rapper — real name Willie Junior Maxwell II — faced at least five years in prison and as many as nine. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess and distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine.
A lawyer for Maxwell did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment, nor did the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Maxwell was arrested by FBI agents at Rolling Loud New York in Oct. 2021. He was one of six people charged with conspiring to possess and distribute over 100 kilos of controlled substances — including heroin, fentanyl, and cocaine — across New Jersey and Long Island starting in 2019.
Maxwell initially pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on bond. There were reports of plea negotiations in 2021, but few public developments followed; in the interim, two co-defendants (Robert Leonardi and Anthony Cyntje) pleaded guilty to the charges against them in June 2022.
Then, in early Aug. 2022, Maxwell was arrested again and had his $500,000 bond revoked. Prosecutors alleged that Maxwell had called another individual on FaceTime in Dec. 2021, threatened to kill him, called him a “rat,” and brandished what appeared to be a firearm. A few weeks later, Maxwell pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to possess charge.
Last week, lawyers for Maxwell and the prosecution submitted their arguments over the severity of his sentence. The prosecution pushed for a sentence of seven to nine years, citing not only the original charges and the alleged FaceTime threat but also, controversially, Maxwell’s music. Calling it an “aggravating factor,” they said Maxwell “has used, and continues to use, his fame, sizable platform, and influence to glamorize the drug trade.”
Specifically, the filing made several mentions of Fetty Wap’s hit “Trap Queen,” as well as a more recent song, “Sweet Yams,” which was released in November 2022. On the latter track — which was released after Maxwell’s arrest — they said he “sang about selling ‘yams’ which is code for grams of narcotics, and making significant money (i.e. ‘bands’) from that illegal trade.” (A bill limiting the ability to use lyrics as evidence passed the New York State Senate last year but not the Assembly.)
Maxwell’s lawyers, meanwhile, pushed for five years, saying the rapper became involved in the alleged drug ring in spring 2020 as the pandemic (and the inability to play shows) exacerbated his already strained finances. “ He was sued personally, was going through a divorce, and was involved with a tour manager who was stealing from him,” Maxwell’s lawyers said, noting that the rapper also provided financial support for his own family and others. “While the bills kept coming in, the money to pay them was running out.
Later in the filing, Maxwell’s lawyers stressed his “unusual” motivation in the case: “Personal gain was not his motivation. Rather, he was motivated by his commitment to financially support others. He now realizes that he does not have to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He has grown and learned from his mistake. His family has seen Mr. Maxwell mature and become more self-aware in the past several months without the distractions that weighed on him previously. They are convinced he will do things differently upon his release.”