The up-and-coming Brooklyn rapper who performs under the name Bobby Shmurda was part of a gang that allegedly sold drugs, dealt guns and committed violent crimes, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said in a news conference Thursday detailing the investigation that led to his arrest.
Ackquille Pollard, 20, was taken into custody with seven others shortly after he left a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday. Police recovered crack cocaine and three guns from a stairwell inside Quad Studio, Bratton said.
The Brooklyn-born Pollard is best known for the hit song "Hot Boy." He also put out a music video that popularized a dance craze called the "Shmoney dance," and reportedly signed a lucrative record deal with Epic Records.
Pollard was stopped in a vehicle with another defendant, Nicolas McCoy, soon after leaving the studio Wednesday, prosecutors said, and there were two guns and a small amount of crack cocaine inside the car. There were other passengers in the car who are not named in the indictment but face separate criminal charges.
Five other defendants named in the indictment were arrested at the same time elsewhere in the city, and two others are in custody outside the state, authorities said.
Pollard was arraigned on conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and weapons and drug charges Thursday. Twelve other defendants are named in the 69-count indictment, including Chad Marshall, another aspiring hip-hop artist known as Rowdy Rebel.
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Pollard pleaded not guilty in court Thursday. His attorney, Howard Greenberg, failed to convince a judge that his client should be released without bail because he was framed and had no reason to run.
"He is a legitimate entertainer,'' Greenberg said. "He is rich. He is busy. He is always on tour.''
Greenberg claimed Epic had agreed to help Pollard make his $2 million bail. A spokesman for the label declined to comment.
Bratton said Pollard was tweeting about a secret concert days before his arrest.
"I don't think he was aware that location is going to be state Supreme Court," Bratton said.
Pollard did not comment to reporters as he was led from a Manhattan police station in handcuffs Wednesday night.
G Stone Crips, or GS9, the gang Pollard was allegedly part of, is tied to the murder of a 19-year-old rival gang member on Feb. 8, 2013, and to gunshots fired outside New York and Miami nightclubs in recent months, according to Bratton. The investigation began after 24 shootings were traced to the gang since 2013.
Most of violence stemmed from an ongoing dispute between GS9 and members of rival street gangs, including the gang known as Folk Nation and the gang known as Brooklyn's Most Wanted, or BMW, according to prosecutors.
The deadly February 2013 shooting inside a Brooklyn bodega capped a series of violent confrontations between GS9 and BMW, according to prosecutors. Pollard was at the scene of the shooting, they said.
Pollard is also accused of firing a gun towards a crowd of people outside a Clarkson Avenue barber shop on June 2, shattering a glass storefront. Prosecutors said a recorded phone conversation between other GS9 members revealed that Pollard had fired the gun during an argument with his brother Javese Pollard, also an alleged GS9 member.
Prosecutors said in another July 2014 incident, just before he performed at Barclays Center, Marshall and another defendant allegedly fired shots at rival gang members while driving on a street in Boerum Hill.
According to prosecutors, a distinctive system of code words and phrases allowed GS9 members to communicate with one another while hiding the nature of their communication from others. Among the code words for firearms were “tone” and “socks." “Crills” referred to narcotics, and “suntan” or “scoom” referred to shootings.
The gang is mainly based at 95th Street and Clarkson Avenue in East Flatbush, Bratton said. The bust was made by the Brooklyn South Violence Reduction Task Force, which was formed this year.
The case carries some "deeply disturbing themes: The gang members' enthrallment with guns, and a cavalier disregard for human life,'' Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said at a news conference.
The hip-hop artist's songs and videos were "almost like a real-life document of what they were doing on the street,'' added James Essig, head of the NYPD task force that made the arrests.
Greenberg told reporters he believes Pollard and the other defendants were targeted because "the government hates rap and hates rappers and hates lyrics."
Pollack's video for "Hot Boy" was posted on YouTube in August has been viewed tens of millions of times, and Pollard performed the song for a national television audience in October on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
"My music is straight facts," Pollard recently told New York Magazine. "There are a lot of gangsters in my 'hood.'"
Pollard's criminal history included two arrests for gun and drug possession, authorities said.