CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) — A federal judge sentenced rapper Fetty Wap on Wednesday to six years in prison, splitting the difference between the time behind bars proposed by the government and the artist.
The 31-year-old born Willie Junior Maxwell II first saw mainstream fame with his 2015 debut single “Trap Queen,” which placed second on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the list’s top 10 songs for 25 consecutive weeks.
Wap, a former correction officer and four other co-conspirators were later indicted on charges that they distributed more than 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine in Long Island and New Jersey.
Prosecutors said the group bought the narcotics on the West Coast and moved them to New York using the U.S. Postal Service and vehicles with hidden compartments.
Averting a trial on two counts that could have put him away for life, Wap pleaded guilty to one drug charge last August, shortly after a judge ordered his return to jail at the request of federal agents who said the “679” singer had called an anonymous man a “rat” and brandished a gun via video chat.
Wap asked for a five-year sentence, the statutory minimum, while the government pushed for a range between 87 and 108 months.
U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert handed down the six-year sentence, plus a five-year supervised release term, at a hearing in the Eastern District of New York’s Long Island courthouse.
The hip-hop star's sentencing memo describes his upbringing in Paterson, New Jersey, where he was exposed to drug violence from a young age — including being robbed at gunpoint as a teenager and witnessing a shooting in his neighborhood steps away from him — and the ridicule he faced from peers over his physical appearance. Wap has undergone multiple reconstructive surgeries to treat his glaucoma, a condition that led to the removal of his left eye before his first birthday.
As his music career took off in 2015, Wap's attorney Elizabeth Macedonio notes, Wap bought his family a five-bedroom home in Georgia and paid for other family expenses like apartments, car leases and higher education tuition. And despite having to keep track of his nine children with seven different women, the artist “never missed a birthday or a Christmas with any of his children," according to the defense's sentencing memo.
Macedonio said Wap's case is unique in that her client wasn’t motivated by personal gain but his commitment to financially support others.
“He now realizes that he does not have to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders,” the sentencing memo says. “He has grown and learned from his mistake. His family has seen Mr. Maxwell mature and become more self-aware in the past several months without the distractions that weighed on him previously. They are convinced he will do things differently upon his release.”
Friends and family also submitted letters to support the request for a below-guidelines sentence.
“Mr. Maxwell accepts full responsibility for his crimes, but his conduct here does not and should not define him,” Macedonio wrote. “As his friends and family have powerfully written, he is an extremely hard-working individual who has gone to extensive lengths to make certain that his children, extended family and community members are cared for.”
Anthony Cyntje, a former New Jersey correction officer charged alongside Wap, pleaded guilty to drug and weapon charges and was sentenced to six years as well. The remaining four co-defendants all pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.
Wap’s attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.
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