A kidnapping of Tekashi69 by a fellow Nine Trey Bloods gang member was nothing more than a Jussie Smollett-style hoax, an attorney for the accused kidnapper said Monday.
Anthony “Harv” Ellison is charged with kidnapping and robbing the trash-talking rapper at gunpoint on July 22, 2018 amid power struggles within the gang. But Ellison’s attorney, Deveraux Cannick, said Tekashi was a willing participant in the incident that was actually a PR stunt.
“It’s a hoax!” Cannick said in opening statements to the jury in Manhattan Federal Court. “It’s a ‘Jussie Smollet,’ if you will.”
Before the alleged kidnapping, Tekashi posted on Instagram, “Someone please snatch my chain so my project could sell more,” Cannick noted. The rapper’s single with Nicki Minaj, “FEFE,” dropped the same day as the incident.
“He had to get that buzz up,” he said. “What kind of buzz? Kidnapping.”
Smollet, an actor on the show “Empire,” became infamous for allegedly staging a hate crime on himself in Chicago earlier this year. A charge against him of filing a false police report was later dropped.
Ellison is on trial alongside another accused Nine Trey gang member, Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack, who is charged with dealing heroin, fentanyl and ecstasy.
Tekashi, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, is expected to take the stand early Tuesday for the government in the hopes of scoring a light sentence for his own role in the gang. Prosecutors said the Brooklyn-born rapper’s music career provided money for the gang’s racketeering operation.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Rebold said that Mack and Ellison were part of a gang that “used the city as a personal battleground.” The men were some of the highest-ranking members in Nine Trey, he said. The trial is expected to last around two weeks.