The culmination of over a year of legal drama comes on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in downtown Manhattan. Daniel “Tekashi 6ix9ine” Hernandez will finally be sentenced, and the most public part of the federal government’s case against the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods will be complete.
A quick recap: In November 2018, 6ix9ine and five other men were arrested on racketeering and firearms charges. 6ix9ine began cooperating immediately, although that information did not become public for several months.
In part because of 6ix9ine’s help, the case eventually swept up a half-dozen more defendants. Ten of them, including 6ix9ine, pleaded guilty. Two (Anthony “Harv” Ellison and Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack) took their chances and went to trial, and were found guilty on the most serious charges. As a reward for his cooperation, 6ix9ine received a letter from the government recommending a sentence below the minimum.
There has been a lot of conjecture, rumors, and speculation over the past few days. Going into the sentencing, here’s what you need to know.
Have there been dropped charges?
When 6ix9ine pleaded guilty on January 23 of this year, he copped to nine different counts. Those counts related to a variety of things, from simply being a member of Nine Trey to participating in a number of violent crimes to brokering a heroin deal a few months before “Gummo” exploded.
On December 13, the government decided to drop one of those nine counts. That is count 2, which was a gun charge. The other eight counts remain.
How much prison time will he get?
Here’s where things get a little complicated. In normal circumstances, the crimes 6ix9ine pleaded guilty to originally would have landed him a sentence of anywhere between 47 years and life. Having the gun charge dropped takes ten years away. So, now he has a potential sentence of between 37 years and life.
But, because 6ix9ine cooperated, things may work out differently. After his cooperation, the government wrote a letter to the judge requesting that 6ix9ine be sentenced below the minimum. The judge is allowed to grant this request, so he can sentence 6ix9ine to any amount of time, from nothing (referred to as “time served,” meaning the time he has already served in prison starting with his November 2018 arrest) to life. So 6ix9ine could be set free on Wednesday morning.
What clues do we have about what will happen?
6ix9ine’s lawyers have been saying for months that their client deserves time served. That is also what the Probation Department recommended when they looked at the case and wrote a report. The contents of the report are not public, but its conclusion—that 6ix9ine should be sentenced to time served and let go—is.
The government, by writing a letter recommending a sentence below the minimum, and effusively praising 6ix9ine’s cooperation, is hinting that it wants a similar resolution, though they have not said that directly. But in the end, the decision is up to the judge.
So far in this case, Judge Paul Engelmayer has given out sentences ranging from five to 20 years—but none of those defendants have cooperated. In past sentencing hearings, Engelmayer has stressed the importance of “general deterrence”—that is, punishment meant not just to send a message to the specific person who committed the crime, but to other people who may consider doing similar things. It remains to be seen how this belief in the need for general deterrence meshes with the government’s desire to reward 6ix9ine for cooperating.