If you're an active purveyor of popular culture, it's safe to say you know about Bobby Shmurda's legal woes. Before his criminal case became bigger than his music career, the Brooklyn native captivated the social media world when a Vine clip featuring him doing the Shmoney dance to his song "Hot N*gga" went viral. Daytime talk show hosts and some of the biggest superstars in the world were mimicking his dance and using his slang, making for one of the biggest rags to riches tales in recent memory. That meteoric rise included a recording deal with Epic Records worth $1.5 million dollars, kudos from rap's elite and dominion as the hottest new artist to emerge from his native New York in some time.
The sudden fame could've been mistaken for a fairy tale. For Shmurda, it may seem that way today after having spent the better part of the past two years confined to a jail cell, with three hots and a cot and commissary ranking high on his list of luxuries. On Dec. 17, 2014, Shmurda, whose street cred played a major part in his allure as a rap artist, was hit with eight charges, including conspiracy, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. He was named in an indictment along with his gang, the G Stone Crips, otherwise known as GS9 hailing from the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn. The NYPD and the district attorney have pegged Shmurda and his street family as dangerous individuals with a thirst for gunplay and drug dealing, while Shmurda maintains that he's just a kid trying to make the best out of his situation being targeted by authorities that would like nothing more than to see him spend his prime years behind bars.
Now the public will have to wait a few more months to see which side the coin of truth will ultimately land on since his trial has been delayed for another four months. The ongoing war between Bobby Shmurda and the justice system is a lengthy one that has taken an innumerable amount of twists and turns. XXL compiles an extensive recap of all of the notable events that have taken place during Bobby Shmurda's fight for freedom.
Bobby Shmurda and GS9 Are Arrested
On Dec. 17, 2014, Bobby Shmurda and members of his GS9 crew had been arrested while at Quad Studios in New York. Thirteen members of the crew were arrested and police recovered 21 weapons during the sweep, which took place after an intensive investigation of GS9's criminal activities. Sha Money XL, EVP of Epic Records and the man that signed Shmurda, was also detained during the bust.
Charges Are Filed Against Bobby Shmurda and GS9
On Dec. 18, 2014, Bobby Shmurda and his GS9 cohorts were arraigned in Manhattan after being arrested at Quad Studios a day prior. The rapper, who was originally charged with conspiracy, reckless endangerment and weapons possession, arrived in court to face a situation that was more dire than anyone anticipated. In addition to the initial charges, Shmurda faced added counts of conspiracy in the second degree, three counts of conspiracy in the third degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree, two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree and one count of criminal possession of drug paraphernalia.
If convicted on the conspiracy charges, Shmurda faced eight to 25 years in prison, and up to 15 years each on the three gun possession charges (which included the weapons possession charge he was hit with in June 2014). Shmurda would later plead not guilty on all charges on Jan. 29 and receive a bail of $2 million dollars. His then-lawyer, Howard Greenberg, said the bail would be posted by Epic Records, but it would soon be clear that Greenberg's statement was a bit premature, to say the least.
Rapper's Lawyer Claims Indictment Motivated by Government's Disdain for Rap Music
Th history of rap stars getting entangled with the long arm of the law is a storied one and Bobby Shmurda's lawyer, Howard Greenberg, attributed it to the powers that be having a gripe with hip-hop culture. “Let me give you some context,” Greenberg told XXL. “The government hates rap and the government hates rappers. They target these guys and construct a narrative around them and then they rationalize the narrative in order to get an indictment. I had said previously, it’s a bunch of bullshit. What they do is they recruit guiltless, loveless people who are truthless that are jealous of brothers on the way up and they get them to implicate them.”
Pegging the charges as "fabricated" and "baseless," Greenberg invalidated the indictment as a simple ploy to stick it to a rich rapper living a lifestyle the authorities admire and using petty charges to bring them down to size.
"Hot N*gga" Lyrics Won't Be Used as Evidence
When reports of Bobby Shmurda and GS9's arrest first leaked to the public, many pointed to the rapper name-dropping on his hit single, "Hot N*gga" as especially damaging and possibly the catalyst for the indictment against his crew. But unlike certain instances in the past, including fellow Brooklyn native Ra Diggs, it was announced that the incindiary lyrics would not find their way into the prosecutions discovery report. On Dec. 29, 2014, Kati Cornell, Director of Public Information for the city’s office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor, confirmed with XXL that the lyrics would not be used.
Shmurda Will Still Face Gun Charges
Bobby Shmurda's camp thought they had caught an unforeseen break on Jan. 28 when the gun charges against him were dismissed by the Brooklyn D.A.'s office. But his team soon found out that the dismissal was just a formality so the charges could be included as part of the district attorney's Special Narcotics' case against the rapper. The gun charge stemmed from a June 2014 arrest when the rapper was alleged to have been in possession of a pistol and drug paraphernalia, which the rapper refutes.
Rumors Start About His $2 Million Bail Being Posted
On Jan. 30, 2015, the first rumors of Bobby Shmurda posting bail surfaced after the rapper and his GS9 crew appeared in court to enter pleas in their pending case. Acquiring the services of celebrity bail bondsman Ira Judelson, who has dealt with many high-profile cases, it looked as if Shmurda could be on the fast-track home. “At the end of the day, I’m their bank. I’m the one who is going to be putting up the money to secure their appearance in court,” Judelson told Bossip. “Bobby is relying on me to put up the $2 million to get him out the door, get him back to his family and get his music career back on track.” While only time would tell if the rhymer's freedom would actually come to fruition, the news gave fans the first glimmer of hope that he could be back in the studio laying down tracks in no time.
In early February 2015, Bobby Shmurda's bail package, put together by celebrity bail bondsman Ira Judelson, had been withdrawn during the 72-hour surety process. While there was no explanation for the withdrawal, it was confirmed by Kati Cornell, that it was indeed true. "It is our understanding that the suretor has withdrawn and there is no hearing scheduled," Cornell stated after reports of the snafu surfaced. The news meant that Shmurda would have to fight his case from behind the walls for the time being and foreshadowed what would be a trying battle between his legal team and the authorities.
Legal Troubles Detailed by Shmurda
In the aftermath of his bail package being withdrawn, Bobby Shmurda spoke out for the first time via an interview, during which he broke down the status of his case and his gripes with the District Attorney and the authorities. "We're trying, but right now I think the DA and the judge and everyone in the court is being biased," Shmurda said in reference to his case. "It's so crazy. The favoritism, yeah. They don't have no evidence, no nothing on me for the bill to be so high. I haven't been out for a year, I haven't been around for a year. So I didn't make two million dollars! [Laughs] They gave me a bill they know I can't pay. We can pay the 10 percent. And we tried to pay the 10 percent and they told us collateral. And every time we go for bail, it's something new."
The rapper also made sure to give a few words of advice to his fans who may be going through their own hardships in life. "Keep your head up. Everybody goes through tough times and good times. You know what, tough times don't last forever. I say, God makes his toughest battles for his strongest soldiers." And he would have to heed that advice as well over the following year-plus of his life, as his fight with the NYPD and the District Attorney would only get tougher as the days passed by.
Epic Records' Involvement With His Case Examined
After his arrest in 2014, some fans expected an exhilarating return to the scene from straight out of jail for the rapper, similar to Snoop Dogg and Shyne before him. And while his original attorney, Howard Greenberg, ensured that Epic Records would be posting the rapper's bail, by the end of February 2015, that proved to be untrue. “When I got locked up, I thought they were going to come for me,” Shmurda revealed. “But they never came.” He also alluded to wanting to break ties with the label in light of the label's perceived disloyalty. “I’m going to try my best to go back on the deal,” he said. “If not, I’ll give them their music and bounce.”
On Feb. 26, 2015, Bobby Shmurda spoke on the radio for the first time during his incarceration, calling into Hot 97 to speak to Ebro in the Morning show. While admitting that he and Rowdy Rebel had been involved in a few incidents while behind the wall, the Brooklyn native seemed to be in great spirits and hopeful of a return to the streets. Despite the uncertainty around his actual court case, Shmurda's phone call proved that he was still full of fight and didn't intend to get railroaded without pulling out all of the stops to ensure his vindication.
50 Cent Enters the Conversation
Being the rabble-rouser that he is, it wasn't too shocking that 50 Cent decided to give his two cents on the situation between Bobby Shmurda and Epic Records. Speaking on the matter during a visit to DJ Whoo Kid's radio show, Fif -- who's currently at odds with former business partner-turned EVP of Epic Records, Sha Money XL -- questioned why Shmurda had yet to be released, asking, “You know what I’d really like to see? That check from Epic. Why they didn’t get Bobby out? Why they didn’t bail Bobby out? They got money on the man why they didn’t bail him out?”
Word of the G-Unit leader's glowing words about Bobby Shmurda GS9 must've gotten back to the embattled rapper, who decided to reach out to his fellow NYC native for assistance during an interview with Hot 97. Stating that he's been trying to get in touch with Fif “for the longest,” he also alludes to what he perceives as jealousy on the part of the NYPD, gloating, "When I come out, my whole neighborhood come out. [The authorities] don’t like that.” But after 50 Cent admitted his rift with Sha Money XL kept him from ever reaching out to Shmurda, hope for the young Brooklynite and the veteran from Jamaica, Queens joining forces are all but dead at this juncture.
Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel Receive Date for Trial
After spending four months incarcerated, Bobby Shmurda finally got news of when he and his crew would be able to confront the allegations set against them by the NYPD. On April 22, 2015, Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel appeared in a Manhattan Supreme Court and were given a trial start-date of June 25, 2015. Shmurda's then-lawyer, Kenneth J. Montgomery, criticized the District Attorney for their charades while handling his clients case. “This is a show and [the prosecutors] have to justify the show,” Montgomery said during the hearing. “At the trial we’ll see what this is really about.” Little did we know then that Montgomery's words would prove to be false, as he would not make it to the courtroom to see what tricks the D.A. had up its sleeve.
He Voices Dissatisfaction With Epic Records
While Bobby Shmurda was fighting for his life, various media outlets, including New York Magazine, were attempting to get the gist of Shmurda's legal predicament, gleaning commentary from his then-lawyer, Kenneth J. Montgomery, and Shmurda himself. “It is quite off to me why they aren’t helping him,” Shmurda’s lawyer Kenneth Montgomery said in reference to Epic's lack of assistance during his client's incarceration. “But I guarantee once he’s out, they’ll be all over him, trying to make more money from him.” Shmurda was also on the record in the story about his dissatisfaction with his parent record label. “Epic is telling me it’s not because of them, it’s ’cause of Sony,” he said. “But I don’t know. I felt like if I’d have signed with Rick Ross or signed to 50 Cent, they’d have come and got me. They’d understand me more.”
Gang-Related Prison Brawl Occurs
TMZ reported that Bobby Shmurda had been involved in a gang-related jail fight on April 15, 2015, in the Otis Bantum Correctional Center. The brawl, which included Shmurda and four other Crips members against two rival Bloods gang members, didn't affect his legal situation, but served as a reminder that even though he's a rap star, that he's still subject to the lay of the land while incarcerated.
Charges of Promoting Prison Contraband Added to List of Legal Troubles
Bobby Shmurda's criminal case suffered yet another setback on June 25, 2015, when a judge postponed the rapper's trial start-date to Oct. 5. But the more noteworthy revelation of that hearing was news that Shmurda had been arrested earlier that week after receiving a "sharpened metal instrument" while on getting a visit from a girlfriend on June 21. According to the New York City Department of Correction, Shmurda was charged in the Bronx Criminal Court on a 1st degree charge of “promoting prison contraband,” a Class D felony. The New York penal code states that the charge relates to either “knowingly and unlawfully introduc[ing] any dangerous contraband into a detention facility,” or, “Being a person confined in a detention facility [who] knowingly and unlawfully makes, obtains or possesses any dangerous contraband.” The girlfriend in question, Kimberly Rousseau, would later plead guilty to attempting to smuggle the weapon into jail, but it was determined that the incident will not be included in the indictment against the Shmurda, who would plead not guilty to the contraband charge himself.
New Lawyer Hired for His Case
After cutting ties with Kenneth Montgomery, whom Bobby Shmurda retained to be his lawyer earlier in 2015, the "Hot N*gga" creator showed up to a court hearing on Oct. 5, 2015 with a new mouthpiece. This time, the rapper standing alongside Alex Spiro of the high-powered law firm Brafman & Associates, according to Page Six. While Spiro argued that his client deserved to be released after receiving yet another trial date, this time for Feb. 22, 2015, the judge disagreed, pointing to Shmurda already being denied bail four times, in addition to what he claimed was an even stronger case against the embattled rapper than before. The denial was but the latest in a series of setbacks for him.
L.A. Reid Explains Why Epic Records Didn't Post Shmurda's Bail
It's no secret that Shmurda, his legal team and affiliates had been very critical of Epic Records' failure to post his $2 million bail and their lack of support. L.A. Reid, the head honcho at Epic, set the record straight and explained his perceived non-involvement. “It’s not the industry that it once was. We seriously don’t make the money we used to make. That’s a fact of life, right?," the tenured executive said. "Bobby Shmurda is not the same as Snoop Dogg and Murder Was the Case, who’s coming off The Chronic and his first album. It’s a different era, you know? And we’re a publicly held corporation. We just aren’t in the same position we were in back in those days. So, it’s a different day.” In layman's terms, Epic had all but cut the plug on their ties to Bobby Shmurda, ultimately pegging the disassociation as business as usual.
District Attorney Attempts to Raise Bail to $2.5 Million
Bobby Shmurda and his mother, Leslie Pollard, called up Hot 97's Ebro in the Morning show to give the people an update on his legal situation. While explaining that he and his family had 10 percent of the $2 million bail, the courts were refusing to let him skate without paying the collateral in full. Shmurda also accused the courts of playing dirty pool and attempting to further railroad him by further raising his bail, stating “They tried to raise it to $2.5 [million] last time I went to court. [They’re trying] to make a big example out of me.” When asked about his relationship with Epic Records, Shmurda could only offer that he hadn't been in contact with them "in a long time.”
Bail Package Gets Denied Again
In December of 2015, a report from TMZ revealed that Bobby Shmurda could possibly be released from prison after family members put together a bail package with collateral and property to cover the balance of his bail and get him out. But, unfortunately, that package would be denied after Shmurda and his legal team again pleaded their case to have the rapper released on bail during a court hearing on Dec. 3, 2015, putting yet another damper on the possibility of the East Flatbush native hitting the streets prior to his upcoming trial date.
Martin Shkreli Offers to Post Bobby Shmurda's Bail
An unexpected twist in the saga of Bobby Shmurda occurred in December of 2015, when reviled pharmaceutical titan Martin Shkreli announced that he was interested in assisting Bobby Shmurda with his legal troubles. Shkreli, who had been the subject of headlines following his acquisition of Wu-Tang Clan's mysterious Once Upon a Time in Shaolin album, said, "Forget whether you think he’s guilty or not, the guy should not be sitting in jail right now. It’s insane. He’s from Brooklyn. I’m from Brooklyn. He deserves a fair trial." While Shkreli's remarks were perceived by many as a cheap ploy to further extend his time in the spotlight, the gesture would never come to fruition and served as false hope to fans clamoring for a miraculous turn of events that would lead to the rapper's release.
Lawyer Puts Motion in to Access Background Files of NYPD Officers
The rhymer appeared in court yet again on Jan. 11, 2016, but this time at the behest of his new lawyer, Alex Spiro, who put in a motion to have all of the files and reports associated with his client's stops and arrests by the NYPD turned over to his team. Spiro also requested that all background files on all of the officers involved in Shmurda's arrests be put into the discovery file, stating "Absence of evidence [recovered during these stops] is evidence." Bobby Shmurda and his legal team also got a lucky break when Judge James Burke decided to grant the rapper another bail hearing, after various attempts to have his bail reduced had been denied over the previous year, giving new hope to fans that the rapper would finally be released.
Bail Reduction Won't Happen
After various attempts to have his lofty bail reduced, Bobby Shmurda would be denied bail again during a court appearance on Jan. 19, 2016. Judge Abraham Clott stated he saw no "substantive change" in the developments of Shmurda's case that would compel his to reduce his bail, leaving the star rapper's lawyer and family "frustrated" at the courts refusal to give his client any fair shakes. The denied motion was the several time Shmurda's legal team had requested a bail reduction, to no avail, further putting into question whether the Brooklynite would ever see the light of day again.
After waiting more than a year for his day in court, Bobby Shmurda's trial date was pushed back yet again in early February. Originally set to being on Feb. 22, 2016, Kati Cornell, the Director of Public Information at the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in New York, confirmed with XXL that the trial would not begin until May 11. This essentially extended Shmurda's stay in jail another three months on top of the year he had already been incarcerated. While Shmurda's trial date was postponed, several other members of his crew, including members known as "Rasha" and "A-Rod," trials would begin on Feb. 22 as scheduled.
NYPD Accused of Targeting Shmurda
In February, Bobby Shmurda accused the NYPD of unfairly targeting him and violating rights. "They violating my constitutional rights, my civil rights, everything. I'm not even supposed to be in Manhattan right now, I want everybody to know that," Shmurda stated during the interview. "All of this is claims. I got a narcotics D.A. and there's no drugs caught in this case. There's no drugs, no kingpin charges, nothing." He continued, saying "It doesn’t make no sense. All of these alleged crimes, they saying that we murdered people and reckless endangerment, they have no evidence." He also maintained his innocence again, stating "They have nothing. They put us together because these people were in my video. They don’t have nothing on us."
Lawsuit Filed Against NYPD
After nearly a year-and-a-half of being on the defensive, Bobby Shmurda decided to go on the offensive in his legal battle by filing a federal lawsuit against the NYPD for unlawful imprisonment. The lawsuit is in relation to Shmurda's arrest in June of 2014 on charges of weapons possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, which the rapper claims are bogus. Shmurda claims that the police kicked in the door of a residence he was visiting, entered illegally without a search warrant, and ransacked the house, all the while taunting him by "chanting the lyrics to his chart-topping songs." While police claim that the rapper attempted to conceal a weapon between cushions on a couch during the search, during which they also discovered drug paraphernalia, he refutes those charges and claims that the weapon nor the drug paraphernalia were his. The lawsuit served as yet another twist in the ongoing saga involving Shmurda and the NYPD.
G Stone Crips Crew Connected to Washed Up Dead Body
The curious case of Bobby Shmurda and GS9 got a bit more interesting earlier this month after the body of a dead man washed up on Manhattan Beach on May 2. The body, identified as 28-year-old Peter Martinez, was found wrapped in plastic bags with duct tape on his face and over 100 pounds of concrete covering his feet, in a bucket. Sources say that Martinez was a high-ranking member of GS9, had been missing for three weeks and owed people money at the time of his death. While the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made, the news definitely has piqued the interests of those familiar with Bobby Shmurda's affiliation to GS9 and adds another wrinkle to the high-profile case, if only by association.
Lawyer Requests Postponement for His Trial
While postponements in the trial have become a formality of sorts at this juncture, the news that Bobby Shmurda's trial has been pushed back until September may shock some, given that it's coming at the behest of the rapper's own attorney, Alex Spiro. Kati Cornell confirmed the postponement of the trial with XXL on May 9. While there's no indication as to what spurred the request, what we do know is that Bobby Shmurda will have to spend yet another summer behind bars while the prospect of his freedom and his future loom over his head.
Bobby Shmurda plead guilty to murder conspiracy in New York City court on Friday morning, Sept. 9. He's been sentenced to seven years in jail and five years of probation, but is lawyer says he might only serve three and a half years behind bars.