On Thursday afternoon, Kodak Black pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an arrest during this May’s Rolling Loud festival. The rapper was arrested just before he was supposed to perform, and the months since have seen a ton of accusations, replies, and crazy headlines. But what exactly happened? And what’s next for the rapper?
When was he arrested?
Kodak Black was arrested as he arrived at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on May 11, 2019. He was on his way to perform his set, scheduled for 8:45 pm, at Rolling Loud later that night. The arrest was made by local police, ATF agents, and U.S. Marshals.
The festival said they had “no knowledge of what led to the arrest.” Local reporter Brian Entin shared a photo of Kodak in police custody.
What was he charged with?
Kodak was charged with two counts of “making a false statement in connection with the acquisition or attempted acquisition of a firearm.” The maximum penalty is 10 years behind bars (along with three years of supervised release afterwards) and a $250,000 fine.
What do authorities say he did?
Kodak’s indictment accuses him of lying to a gun dealer (Lou’s Police Distributors in Hialeah, Florida) twice: once on January 25, 2019 and once on March 1. During the first trip, he bought a Century Arms Mini Draco 7.62 x 39 Romanian pistol ($669.98), a Sig MPXK9 9mm pistol ($1,940.00), and a Sig P238 .380 pistol ($510.00), which he picked up several days later. On the March visit, he attempted to buy a Sig MCX Rattler 300 Blackout Pistol ($2,598.98) and a Glock 43x ($459.98). On that second trip, the transaction was denied.
On both of those outings, he had to fill out a form (ATF form 4473). On that form are three questions. Answering yes to any of them would have meant that Kodak couldn’t get the guns. He answered no, and the government contends that he was lying. Here are the questions:
Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?
Have you ever been convicted in any court of a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could have imprisoned you for more than one year, even if you received a shorter sentence including probation?
Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?
The biggest issue was with the first of these questions. Kodak is currently under indictment in South Carolina for first degree criminal sexual conduct. The rapper is accused of sexually assaulting a girl in a hotel room in Florence County, South Carolina after a show in November, 2016.
As for the second question about convictions, the government brought up Kodak’s extensive past record (most notably, a 2013 conviction for carjacking and robbery). And the part about controlled substances: the government pointed out that Kodak already had eight drug arrests, and had been busted with marijuana at the US/Canada border just about a month prior.
In addition to lying about the three questions, the government contends, Kodak had entered the wrong social security number on the first of the two times he filled out the form, transposing two digits. Thus, a background check didn’t reveal the South Carolina case. He entered the correct social security number the second time. The shop then found his criminal record, and denied the transaction.
What was his defense?
When it came to lying about being under indictment, Kodak’s lawyers said that the government “sets forth no evidence that [Kodak] intended to deceive or knew that the alleged statement was intended to deceive”—in short, that he wasn’t actually trying to fool anyone. As for the part about prior convictions, they said that in the 2013 case he “was never adjudicated a felon, but rather a delinquent and youthful offender.” And when it came to controlled substances, they argued, he was not an unlawful user of marijuana, because he has a medical marijuana prescription. Also, his mother “has never witnessed her son use illegal drugs.”
What happened after he was arrested?
Four days after his arrest, Kodak had a hearing where a judge said he could be free on a $500,000 bond. The government didn’t like that, and asked that Kodak remain imprisoned while they appealed the decision. The judge agreed.
Two days later, Kodak lost his appeal hearing and had to remain behind bars. The main thrust of the government’s argument during the appeal was that Kodak was a danger to the community. Two of the guns he bought at Lou’s, they said, were found at different crime scenes. The Sig MPXK9 was located on the scene of a March 2019 shooting in Pompano Beach, Florida. The gun had Kodak’s fingerprints on it, and a live round in the chamber. The intended victim in the case was reportedly a rap rival of Kodak’s. The Mini Draco was found when Kodak was arrested at the Canadian border incident mentioned above.
All of this was enough to convince the judge that Kodak should remain locked up while the case is adjudicated. “I think he's a danger to the community because he wants to have access to guns for whatever reason,” Judge Frederico A. Moreno ruled. “[N]o condition will reasonably assure the appearance of this defendant and the safety of...the community.”
On August 14, Kodak’s lawyers filed for a “change of plea” hearing—a clue that they were planning on changing their stance after months of maintaining innocence. On Thursday afternoon, he pleaded guilty to two counts of knowingly making a false and fictitious written statement in connection with the acquisition and attempted acquisition of a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Kodak admitted to lying in his answer to the first of the three questions, “Are you under indictment or information in any court for a felony, or any other crime for which the judge could imprison you for more than one year?” The government also confirmed that one of the guns Kodak purchased in January had been used in the Pompano Beach shooting.
Sentencing is set for November 13. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. However, there are indications that he may get a relatively light sentence in return for pleading. The government said in paperwork filed Thursday that they would recommend that the suggested sentence, which would be a range of months rather than a set number, be less than normal “based upon the defendant's recognition and affirmative and timely acceptance of personal responsibility.” In addition, they said that whatever the range is, they would recommend that Kodak be sentenced at the low end of it. The actual sentence, however, will be determined by the judge.