Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was released into house arrest on Thursday, over fears that his chronic asthma makes him vulnerable to coronavirus.
“He’s out and he’s very happy to be released,” his defense attorney, Lance Lazzaro, told NBC News.
The 23-year-old rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, had been housed at a private facility under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons. He was serving time after pleading guilty to multiple counts of racketeering, firearms offenses and drug trafficking.
Citing safety concerns, Lazzaro declined to reveal which private lockup his client had been at and also refused to say where he would stay for the final four months of his two-year sentence.
U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer had earlier written that he didn’t have legal authority to change the sentence, and told Hernandez’s defense team it first had to ask the Bureau of Prisons to let him out due to the pandemic.
But once the bureau refused the rapper’s request, Engelmayer said the court was then allowed to act.
“It is readily apparent — and the Court here finds — that the circumstances presented here are extraordinary and compelling so as to justify compassionate release in Mr. Hernandez’s case,” Englemayer ruled.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is extraordinary and unprecedented in modern times in this nation. It presents a clear and present danger to free society for reasons that need no elaboration. COVID-19 presents a heightened risk for incarcerated defendants like Mr. Hernandez with respiratory ailments such as asthma.”
The rapper on Thursday did not show any symptoms of coronavirus, according to his lawyer.
“At some point I’m guessing yes” he’ll be tested for the virus, Lazzaro said. “When it becomes readily available.”
Hernandez last year flipped on members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, a gang founded by prisoners on Rikers Island, the notorious New York City jail.
His testimony helped convict gang leaders Anthony “Harv” Ellison and Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack in October on racketeering conspiracy, connected to their alleged gang activity.
Back in September, 6ix9ine told a court that his role had been to “just keep making hits and be the financial support for the gang … so they could buy guns and stuff like that.”
Judge Engelmayer wrote that he does not believe Hernandez will be a threat to neighbors: “For reasons including those set out at length at Mr. Hernandez’s sentencing, the Court is, further, persuaded that Mr. Hernandez — having been prosecuted, pled guilty, and publicly cooperated against members of the gang, the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, in concert with whom his violent acts were committed — no longer will present a meaningful danger to the community if at liberty.”