Two members of a notorious New York City street gang were convicted Thursday on racketeering charges, just days after rapper Tekashi 69 ratted them out in court.
Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack, 33, and Anthony “Harv” Ellison, 31, were found guilty of several charges —including racketeering conspiracy—after their two-week trial, which drew a packed courtroom of supporters, family members, and rap fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Tekashi, a hip-hop artist turned government witness.
After 10 hours of deliberation, jurors also convicted Ellison to kidnapping Tekashi last July. Mack was also found guilty of racketeering conspiracy, assault, and narcotics conspiracy. They were acquitted on other charges.
During Tekashi’s three-day testimony, the rapper, who’s known for his hyper-aggressive persona and rainbow hair, was visibly nervous as he told jurors he was first introduced Mack and Ellison’s gang—the Nine Trey Bloods—while taping a music video in 2017 for his first hit single, “GUMMO.”
When the video went viral, Tekashi said he developed a symbiotic relationship with the gang: They provided protection as his fame grew, and he provided a revenue stream for their illicit activities.
“I got the street credibility. I would say I got my career,” the hip-hop star testified last week. “I knew I had a winning formula for my music videos: repeat the gang image. That’s what people liked.”
The rapper, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, first became a viral social media star in 2014 with unabashedly raunchy Instagram and Youtube videos that often featured guns, drugs, and various references to the Nine Trey Bloods. The Brooklyn-born rapper, who hit the mainstream music scene two years later, is best known for his hit single last year with Nicki Minaj, “FEFE.”
Tekashi was arrested last November along with 11 other Nine Trey Bloods members and pleaded guilty in February to nine federal charges, including firearms offenses, racketeering, and drug counts. (The rapper also previously pleaded guilty in 2015 to child porn charges after filming a sexually explicit video with a 13-year-old girl—a video he once said was intended to boost his “scumbag” persona.)
As part of the deal with prosecutors, Tekashi agreed to take the stand against Nine Trey Bloods members who opted for a trial, name-dropping famous rappers and alleged gang members, including Bronx natives Cardi B and Jim Jones. The decision to testify was heavily criticized by several of his music peers—including Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Rebold described Ellison as the “muscle and manager” for Tekashi until he was ousted from the rapper’s inner circle in July 2018—a move that allegedly prompted Ellison to kidnap and rob Tekashi for revenge. While Tekashi and Mack were not as close, prosecutors showed jurors several photos of the two at New York City clubs and concerts.
Tekashi testified that Ellison first showed his loyalty during an orchestrated attack on rival rapper Trippie Redd at the Gansevoort hotel in Manhattan last year. After months of “ongoing disputes,” multiple diss tracks, and “a lot of jealousy” with Redd, Tekashi said he ordered several Nine Trey members to “get something done.”
The rapper said while he waited in a car around the corner, a Nine Trey quartet stormed Redd’s hotel room—fleeing after Ellison punched Redd in the mouth without warning. The attack, Tekashi said, instantly earned Ellison the rapper’s trust—and access to his bank account.
“After the incident with Trippie Redd, [Ellison] and I got super close,” Tekashi said. “I used him as an enforcer, for protection. He became a part of my entourage.”
The relationship, however, fizzled after “about four months” when Ellison started to exhibit “aggressive behavior” Tekashi said.
“Stop picking and choosing when you wanna be gangster,” Ellison texted Tekashi, according to messages shown in court.
The rapper testified that by July 2018, the Nine Treys were consumed by infighting, and the gang had split into supporters and enemies of Tekashi.
“We were all part of the same gang, but we were all attacking each other at the same time,” he said.
Tekashi alleged the animosity between the two erupted later that month, when Ellison allegedly kidnapped him the night before he dropped his single “FEFE.” Video from Tekashi’s driver’s dash-cam played in court last week showed Tekashi pleading with Ellison to spare him, before reminding him: “I’ve always done right by you.”
Ellison and another assailant, he said, beat him up before taking more than $300,000 in jewelry—including a diamond pony necklace with rainbow hair that resembled his own and a spinning “69” chain.
“I was so humiliated,” Tekashi said as he fiddled with the Dutch braid pigtails he wore everyday in court. “Humiliated because I constantly brag that I am untouchable and invincible on Instagram. Then I get kidnapped by a brother.”
The rapper’s symbiotic relationship with the Nine Treys disintegrated shortly after the July robbery when he denounced the Brooklyn-based crew on the radio, calling them “frauds” and “dirty Blood members.”
Weeks later, a dozen alleged members were arrested, and the next day, Tekashi said he decided to cooperate with the feds to “shed light on the whole operation.” He now faces a minimum of 47 years in prison at his December sentencing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York has indicated that while he may receive far less because of his cooperation, he could enter witness protection program after serving his sentence—though it is not immediately clear if Tekashi has accepted the offer.