Rapper and Instagram star Tekashi69 was sentenced to two years in prison Wednesday by a federal judge who gave him credit for pleading guilty and helping prosecutors send several of his former gang associates in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods to prison.
The performer, who is also known as 6ix9ine and whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, has already spent nearly 13 months in a federal jail and that time will count toward his sentence. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had described his cooperation against members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods as “extraordinary” and “extremely useful.”
But the judge, Paul A Engelmayer, said the conduct Hernandez admitted to was too serious to justify his immediate release from custody, which his lawyer had sought.
“Your conduct was too violent, too sustained, too destructive, too selfish and too reckless with respect to public safety to make a sentence of 13 months at all reasonable,” the judge said, listing the litany of shootings and robberies that Hernandez, 23, had admitted to being a part of.
Hernandez - his signature rainbow-hair-dye long grown out - seemed attentive and engaged across the nearly three-hour hearing. He nodded as the judge spoke and he offered an emotional apology to a woman who spoke about being shot during one of his crimes.
“I know I was wrong,” he said through tears. “I was weak. I was easily influenced. I can’t believe that was me. Again, your honor, there is no apology good enough.”
The sentence was a significant departure from the 37 years Hernandez faced, which the judge attributed to the rapper’s cooperation with government prosecutors.
Hernandez faces an uncertain future. Prosecutors have told the judge that his cooperation against the Nine Trey gang came at great risk to him and his family.
“Certain things people take for granted - going into a store, going to the movies, things of that nature - Mr. Hernandez will have to think strategically about,” Michael D. Longyear, a prosecutor, said in court Wednesday. “He’ll have to look over his shoulder.”
Hernandez has signaled that upon his release, he is not interested in the federal witness protection program, telling the court that he intends to keep performing and making music. In December, he signed a $10 million record deal, which the judge pointed to in court.