Chart-topping rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again is asking a federal judge to spring him from jail while he awaits trial on federal gun charges — but prosecutors are attacking his intricate pitch to live near a “mentor” in Utah under house arrest with private guards.
The Louisiana-bred hip hop prodigy who’s spent the last six months in custody appeared in a federal courtroom in Baton Rouge on Monday and Tuesday as his lawyers pleaded for his release on bond with plenty of strings attached.
They said their client would submit to house arrest at his residence in Layton, Utah, and pay a private security firm staffed with ex-military to enforce his home detention. They also brought in a woman named Kyrie Oliver who testified that she met YoungBoy while working at a Baton Rouge school and struck up a mentoring relationship with him. Oliver told the court that if it granted YoungBoy release to house arrest in Utah, she would assist in keeping an eye on him.
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In a new motion obtained by Rolling Stone, prosecutors take direct aim at Oliver’s testimony, saying they were blindsided by her appearance as a defense witness Monday and believe she left out a “significant detail” about her alleged conflict of interest in the case.
In their 4-page filing, federal prosecutors claim YoungBoy, whose legal name is Kentrell Gaulden, paid Oliver nearly $600,000 between January 4th and February 1st for “celebrity assistant” services. They argue the large sum of money “calls into question her suitability to serve as a quasi-custodian” for YoungBoy because challenging him “would risk her and her family losing a substantial financial pipeline.”
They posed a similar conflict-of-interest argument related to YoungBoy’s proposed security firm Bedrock, saying the company stood to earn $21,000 a week for its services. And they urged the court to discount the sympathetic testimony from Atlantic Records Chairwoman Julie Greenwald on Monday, saying her company “has more than a $2 million investment” in YoungBoy and intends to build him a home studio.
The court had not ruled on the bond issue as of late Tuesday.
A federal grand jury returned an indictment against the “Outside Today” rapper in March, charging him with being a felon in possession of an unregistered Masterpiece Arms 9 mm and a .45 caliber Glock Model 21 pistol when he was arrested September 28th, 2020, in Baton Rouge. YoungBoy’s lawyers claim he was the victim of a “dragnet” linked to a disputed 911 call about a group of people gathered outside his grandfather’s house. Less than two weeks after the indictment, YoungBoy was arrested in Los Angeles and returned to Louisiana.
According to his lawyers, YoungBoy might not have spent the last six months behind bars if the April 1st probation report that a judge relied on to deny his pre-trial release hadn’t included “several redundancies” that “may have exaggerated” his criminal history.
Although the report mentioned “seven prior arrests,” two of the entries related to his still-pending gun case and three involved a single prior incident, they argue in court filings.
“After consolidating the redundancies, what remains is one arrest and conviction for misdemeanor simple battery, which does not involve a weapon and one conviction for aggravated assault with a weapon. For both cases, Mr. Gaulden satisfactorily completed probation,” his legal team wrote in an August 19th filing obtained by Rolling Stone.
Gaulden, 21, is a song-streaming sensation whose latest album Sincerely, Kentrell became his fourth to hit Number One on the Billboard 200 chart.
The hit album, released while Gaulden is behind bars at the St. Martin Parish Correctional Center, knocked Drake’s Certified Lover Boy out of the top spot last month with more than 186 million on-demand streams of its 23 tracks, according to Billboard.
Gaulden is now the first rapper to have a Number One album in each of the last three years, Billboard says, despite the fact he gets almost no radio play. His phenomenally popular YouTube videos rack up hundreds of millions of views by overlaying dreamy scenes of exotic cars and stacks of cash with his fatalistic songs about survival.
YoungBoy is due back in court Friday for more testimony related to his related motion to suppress video evidence collected by law enforcement after his September 2020 arrest.
The rapper and his lawyers claim “B-roll” footage of his life seized from his cameraman Marvin Ramsey, also known as Rich Porter, and various devices was improperly obtained with a faulty search warrant.
“The discovery shows that law enforcement misled, lied, and failed to disclose important facts to a newly elected state court judge in multiple affidavits,” YoungBoy’s lawyers James P. Manasseh, Ian F. Hipwell, André Bélanger, and Drew Findling argue in the 16-page motion.
They say “multiple sworn affidavits misled and misrepresented to the court the nature of the information” provided by an anonymous 911 caller. They said police swore they were acting on information that “street gangs had gathered on abandoned property, brandishing firearms.”
“The picture paints a potential gang fight about to erupt,” but according to the 911 provided in discovery, the caller “is calm” and “does not report being in danger or fear any imminent violence,” the lawyers wrote.
“The 911 caller makes no statements that could be construed to mean the individuals were ‘brandishing’ firearms. The 911 caller suggests that she observed individuals carrying firearms; she never indicates that the firearms were pointed at anyone or used to threaten or intimidate anyone,” they said.
The Baton Rouge Police officer who requested the warrant to search Ramsey’s camera is due to appear in court for possible questioning when YoungBoy’s hearing resumes Friday morning.
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