On Thursday morning, Judge Paul Engelmayer's courtroom in lower Manhattan was filled with over a dozen observers, many in tears, when he sentenced Jesnel "Ish" Butler to 60 months in prison.
Butler is the first defendent in the 6ix9ine racketeering case to be sentenced. He admitted to his role in the April 3, 2018 armed robbery in the lobby of the Times Square building that houses ThisIs50—a robbery that 6ix9ine reportedly filmed from the backseat of a nearby car, and proceeds of which were found in an apartment the rap star was renting.
Butler's 60-month sentence (which comes along with three years of supervised release) was the mandatory minimum—the lowest possible he could get, given his plea. Assistant United States Attorney Michael D. Longyear admitted at the sentencing that, out of the case's many defendants accused of being part of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang, Butler was at the "lower end of culpability"—he acted as a driver during the April robbery and was present, Longyear said, at several other Nine Trey-related violent incidents, including the April 21, 2018 shooting during an Adrien Broner fight at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
Butler's lawyer, Sean Maher, told the court that his client was "remorseful for a number of reasons." Butler "greatly appreciates," the attorney continued, the risk his actions presented to the public, and the pain he has caused to his family, his loved ones, and himself.
Maher said of Butler, 37, "He has been an active father [and] a member of the PTA for many years... [He has] really been there for the people he cares about."
Butler began crying when he had his chance to speak.
"I knew my actions and being around the people I was around could cause harm to people, and I deeply apologize," he said. He spoke of his children: "When I serve my time, I am going to make a difference in their lives. I apologize for everything."
Although 60 months was the shortest sentence he could legally impose, the judge went out of his way to say that he thought it was "just and reasonable."
"You are really fortunate no one was killed in those incidents," Engelmayer said to Butler of his participation in the robbery, the Barclays incident, and an additional shooting in July of 2018. It is also important, the judge explained, that the sentence "gets a message across" to people who may consider joining a gang.
Engelmayer, who noted that Nine Trey had been "successfully broken up" by the ongoing racketeering case, then gave Butler credit for pleading guilty as opposed to going to trial. The judge also read excerpts of letters from Butler's friends and family, some of whom were present, which testified to the defendant's kindness and dedication to the people he's closest to.
The letters, which were obtained by Complex, paint a picture of a dedicated family man. "[Jesnel] has a loving spirit," wrote Butler's sister Damaris. "He loves everyone. He takes care of everyone. He would give his last just to make sure his family is secure and stable. He is a very active family member in all of our lives. Literally when any of us need for something, we know that we can call on him for anything. He always positive and reliable."
Maher asked the judge that his client serve his sentence as close to New York City as possible. The next defendant in the case scheduled to be sentenced is 6ix9ine's former bodyguard Faheem "Crippy" Walter, on Aug. 14. Two defendants, Aljermiah "Nuke" Mack and Anthony "Harv" Ellison, have not yet pleaded guilty. Ellison's lawyer told Complex earlier this month that he intends to take the case to trial. That trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 9.