Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine pleaded not guilty to racketeering and gun charges

 

Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine pleaded not guilty Monday to federal racketeering and firearms charges, according to reports from New York’s NBC 4 station and PIX 11.

The Brooklyn rapper, whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, was among four people arrested on racketeering and firearms charges earlier this month, authorities said.

Tekashi 6ix9ine was in federal custody while awaiting his court appearance after his arrest, with charges alleging that he participated in the July shooting of a bystander in Brooklyn and the gunpoint robbery of his gang’s rivals last spring.

Tekashi remains in custody, with a pretrial conference set for Jan. 22, 2019, and a trial date of Sept. 4, 2019, NBC 4 and PIX11 report.  Authorities also arrested three of Hernandez’s former associates, Kifano “Shotti” Jordan, Jensel “Ish” Butler and Faheem “Crippy” Walter.

His lawyer, Lance Lazzaro, released a statement on Wednesday, saying that 6ix9ine is “completely innocent of all charges being brought against him.”

“An entertainer who portrays a ‘gangster image’ to promote his music does not make him a member of an enterprise,” Lazzaro said in the statement. “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.”

USA TODAY has reached out to Tekashi 6ix9ine’s lawyer for comment on reports of his plea.  6ix9ine has been one of the most ascendant and controversial names in hip-hop in recent months. His album “Day69: Graduation Day” was among the top records on iTunes following its February release.

He is also known for the multiplatinum hit “Fefe” with Nicki Minaj, which peaked at No. 3 on the pop charts, and “Stoopid,” featuring incarcerated rapper Bobby Shmurda.

6ix9ine 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, 9 Trey Bloods.

In a 2015 case in New York, 6ix9ine 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 6ix9ine “stands behind the child making a thrusting motion with his pelvis and smacking her on her buttocks,” according to court documents.