South Carolina Prosecutors Want Custody of Rapper Kodak Black After Trump Clemency

Clemency from former President Donald Trump does not shield the rap star from a pending sexual battery case in Florence County. 

This combination of images shows rappers Lil Wayne, left, and Kodak Black. Both were granted last-minute clemency by outgoing President Donald Trump. (AP Photo)

(CN) — Prosecutors in South Carolina want rap star Kodak Black transported to state custody to face a longstanding sexual assault charge after his federal sentence for gun law violations was commuted by outgoing President Donald Trump.

The rapper, who changed his name from Dieuson Octave to Bill Kapri in 2018, was among those granted clemency Tuesday night by Trump in one of his final acts as president.

Kapri was serving a 46-month sentence in federal prison for making false statements on paperwork related to a gun purchase. According to prosecutors, he falsely stated in the paperwork that he had no pending felony cases against him. He also allegedly penned in a scrambled version of his Social Security number to avoid detection.

His attorney Bradford Cohen has suggested that his sentence was unduly harsh for a nonviolent offense.

“[Kodak Black] gets sentenced to 46 months for lying on a government form. Big difference if you are someone in power from a young African American,” Cohen tweeted Sunday.

Another one of Kapri’s attorneys, Jonathan Schwartz, said in a statement to Courthouse News that the clemency was “exemplary of President Trump’s commitment to criminal justice reform.”

But whether Kapri will be freed remains unclear.

Florence County Solicitor Ed Clements told Courthouse News that he has a detainer on file against Kapri and plans to bring him to South Carolina to face the sexual assault charge. Kapri is not shielded from the South Carolina case in part because presidential clemency applies to federal, not state charges. In granting Kapri clemency, Trump did not mention or take a stance on the sexual assault allegations.

South Carolina prosecutors allege that Kapri forced himself on a woman in a hotel room in February 2016, at one point biting her neck and breast. The woman “repeatedly told [him] to stop” during the sexual encounter, according to a police affidavit.

“Her injuries were documented in a sexual assault kit that was completed by medical personnel,” the affidavit states.

Clements said the Covid-19 outbreak has slowed the progress of the prosecution.

“We’ll move forward as fast as we can. The pandemic ground court to a halt,” he said.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the detainer.

On Wednesday, shortly after his sentence was commuted, the rapper dropped his lawsuit against the Bureau of Prisons over alleged abuse he suffered while serving time at the Kentucky high-security prison Big Sandy. The lawsuit claimed guards beat him up, tortured him and placed him in four-point restraints for hours on end with no access to a bathroom.

The BOP disputed the accounts, pointing to an instance in which it claims Kapri was restrained for being violent and spitting on a prison guard.

Kapri rose to fame as a teenager around 2014 with his song “No Flockin.” He gained a wide following with his subsequent albums, including “Dying to Live,” which reached the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart. The Pompano Beach, Florida, native has racked up hundreds of millions of views of his music videos on YouTube.

According to the BOP, he was housed at U.S. Penitentiary Thomson, a high-security prison in Illinois, prior to the clemency grant.  

The White House press secretary said in a statement that Trump’s decision to commute Kapri’s federal sentence was “supported by numerous religious leaders, including Pastor Darrell Scott and Rabbi Schneur Kaplan.”

The statement cited Kapri’s “numerous philanthropic efforts” and charitable donations. Kapri’s reported philanthropy includes funding school supplies for financially struggling families, a $1,000 donation to Rabbi Kaplan’s synagogue, and a $50,000 donation to the Barstool Fund, which provides relief to businesses struggling during the novel-coronavirus outbreak.  

Kapri was among several high-profile figures who received clemency from Trump late Tuesday.

Trump used his pardon power to void pending fraud charges against his former campaign adviser Steve Bannon in connection with Bannon’s border-wall funding campaign. The campaign had raised more than $25 million through the online site GoFundMe.

Rapper Dwayne Michael Carter aka Lil Wayne meanwhile was granted a full pardon by Trump after pleading guilty last month to possessing a firearm as a felon.  

Trump also granted clemency Tuesday night for South Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, who received a 17-year sentence in 2018 for what prosecutors described as one of the biggest Medicare frauds on record.  Apart from the criminal charges, Melgen had been accused in at least nine lawsuits of injecting patients with eye drugs that had become contaminated during a “multi-dosing” process, whereby the doctor saved money by drawing multiple doses from single-use drug vials.

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