Denard “Drama” Butler was an aspiring rapper and entrepreneur drawn to the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods by their association with 6ix9ine as he became a runaway success. On Thursday, Butler paid the price for that decision: 60 months in federal prison.
Butler appeared in Judge Paul Engelmayer’s courtroom in downtown Manhattan’s Thurgood Marshall Courthouse on Thursday afternoon. Back in June of 2019, he had pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a racketeering enterprise. Now it was up to Engelmayer to decide how much prison time that merited.
Assistant US Attorney Michael Longyear pointed out that the government viewed Butler as being in the “middle to middle-lower” tier of defendants in the dozen-person case. Butler only started spending time around Nine Trey starting when his friend (and co-defendant) Roland “Ro Murda” Martin came out of jail in February 2018. He very quickly played a part in a number of violent incidents, including the April 3, 2018 midtown Manhattan robbery that 6ix9ine captured on video and shared with the world.
But even during those incidents, Butler was portrayed during the proceedings as “muscle,” a “cheerleader,” a member of the “supporting cast.”
“Quite frankly, my client was a hanger-on,” said Butler’s attorney, Kenneth A. Paul. “He was interested in the music industry.”
When it came to deciding Butler’s sentence, though, his extensive criminal history and his age at the time of the crimes weighed against him with Judge Engelmayer.
“He’s 35 at the time he makes a decision to associate with a violent gang on a sustained basis,” the judge said. “That’s bad decision making.”
When Butler spoke, he apologized to his family, his children, and “everyone who was affected by my actions.”
Butler’s recommended sentence range in his plea agreement was between 77 and 96 months. Judge Engelmayer’s downward variance to 60 months was, he said, “in recognition of your secondary role with the gang.” The judge also noted the impressive and moving letters sent to him by Butler’s friends and family.
“I see a lot of good in you,” Engelmayer said at the end of the proceedings. “If you hold yourself up to the aspirations [your friends and family] have for you, you’ll be in a good place.”
After the hearing, a man who identified himself as Butler’s brother-in-law said that the defendant had changed as a result of his experience.
“Mr. Butler has definitely changed his mind about the people he deals with,” the man said. “He’s definitely learned his lesson because he needs to be out here with his children.”
In other 6ix9ine news, the rapper’s former manager Kifano “Shotti” Jordan today agreed with his attorney Jeffrey Lichtman that their time together should come to an end. Earlier this month, Lichtman told the court that he felt his client’s appeal didn’t have any basis, and asked to be allowed to bail on the proceedings. On Thursday, Jordan’s response was made public. He also feels the relationship is beyond repair, and wrote to the Court of Appeals asking for a new attorney.
“There has been a complete breakdown in communications between attorney Lichtman and myself,” Jordan wrote. He is currently serving a 15-year sentence at the Federal Corrections Complex in Allenwood, Pennsylvania.