Tekashi 6ix9ine Released From Prison Over Coronavirus Fears
UPDATE: Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine will be released from prison after the presiding Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled that “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 in the manner requested,” according to a ruling obtained by Rolling Stone. “The COVID-19 pandemic is extraordinary and unprecedented in modern times in this nation. It presents a clear and present danger to free society for reasons that need no elaboration,” the ruling continued. The rapper must “serve the first four months of supervised release on home incarceration, to be enforced by GPS monitoring, at an address approved by the defendant’s probation officer.” Hernandez’s attorney, Dawn Florio, confirmed his release to Rolling Stone.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman wrote to Judge Engelmayer requesting that the ruling not be released until 4pm EST, “to ensure that Mr. Hernandez is transported safely and securely from the facility where he is currently housed to a residential address previously approved by the Probation Department (the ‘Residence’).”
After 17 months in federal custody, Daniel “Tekashi 6ix9ine” Hernandez could be released from prison as early as Wednesday afternoon. His attorney, Lance Lazzaro, filed a motion to release him immediately due to the spread of COVID-19 through the prison system. After a series of appeals to both the judge in the case and the Bureau of Prisons, 6ix9ine could be released as soon as this afternoon, Lazzaro confirmed to Rolling Stone.
The process began last week, when Lazzaro first submitted a motion to release Hernandez, pointing out that Hernandez’ asthma put him at risk from the virus. Judge Paul Engelmayer, who’s presided over the case and gave Hernandez his two-year sentence (including the 13 months he’d already served) following the rapper’s cooperation in his racketeering charge, asserted that he did not have jurisdiction over the matter, and suggested Lazzaro file a motion with the Bureau of Prisons. According to Lazzaro, Engelmayer requested that the Bureau grant the request.
That request was initially denied. According to an email from a Bureau of Prisons representative obtained by Inner City Press, the bureau does “not have any authority or oversight of his case as he is not in a BOP facility. If the Court orders a compassionate release for him, that information will be provided to the US Marshals Service and the GEO facility for processing.”
Lazzaro then appealed the decision to Engelmayer. According to Lazzaro, the decision will be made Wednesday or Thursday, and if Hernandez is granted the request, he will likely be released immediately. “Based on what [Engelmayer] wrote this morning, it seems likely he’s going to grant it,” Lazzaro said. Engelmayer, in turn, gave the prosecutors until 5pm EST on Wednesday to make the case for Hernandez to stay in custody.
In a letter to Judge Engelmayer obtained by Rolling Stone, United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman wrote that “the Government does not oppose the defendant’s motion for compassionate release,” paving the way for Engelmayer to order Hernandez’s release. “I believe the judge will, at some point, approve my motion for compassionate release,” said Lazzaro. “I don’t want to put words into the judge’s mouth.”
“It’s a foregone conclusion, he’s getting released” said Dawn Florio, another attorney for Hernandez. “He could do it today, or later, we’re just waiting on the judge’s decision.”
If Hernandez is released, he will serve the remaining four months of his sentence in home confinement. It’s unclear where that would take place.