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The rapper and Instagram star known as Tekashi 6ix9ine has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his role in a violent drug-trafficking gang in New York and was cooperating with federal prosecutors, according to newly unsealed court records.
The rapper, whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, admitted at a court hearing last week to being a member of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, and said he had helped other gang members rob people at gunpoint. In one case, he said, he “paid a person to shoot at a rival” gang member to scare him.
“I did this to maintain or increase my own standing in Nine Trey,” Mr. Hernandez told the judge. He added that the gang engaged in “shooting at people, robbing people and, at times, drug trafficking.”
Mr. Hernandez remains incarcerated, and it was unclear Friday when he will be sentenced or how his cooperation might affect his prison term.
Mr. Hernandez, 22, was charged in November along with several other alleged members and associates of the Nine Trey gang on racketeering conspiracy and firearms charges, a federal indictment shows.
The gang “wreaked havoc on New York City, engaging in brazen acts of violence,” Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said when the charges were announced.
At the time, Mr. Hernandez’s lawyer, Lance Lazzaro, pronounced him “completely innocent” of the charges, adding, “An entertainer who portrays a ‘gangster image’ to promote his music does not make him a member of an enterprise.”
But at the hearing in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Mr. Hernandez pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and eight other charges, for which he could face a mandatory minimum of 47 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
If Mr. Hernandez cooperates successfully with the authorities, the government has agreed to write to the judge, seeking leniency on his behalf.
Mr. Hernandez has spent the better part of his adult life crafting himself into a viral internet personality. His brash stunts — which included dying his hair rainbow colors and wearing clothing emblazoned with obscenities — made him a near-instant superstar.
[Read more about the rapid rise and sudden fall of Tekashi 6ix9ine.]
But his meteoric career trajectory was unusual. Mr. Hernandez only began pivoting to rap after he had become well-known on the internet for his obnoxious antics. He appears to have sought gang affiliation to bolster his credibility among some hip-hop fans.
Records of the court hearing at which Mr. Hernandez pleaded guilty, on Jan. 23, were ordered sealed by the judge, Paul A. Engelmayer, after a prosecutor said that there were “safety concerns” with respect to Mr. Hernandez and members of his family, and that word of his plea could hurt law enforcement’s efforts to arrest others under investigation.