NEW YORK (AP) — Bobby Shmurda, a rapper once on the rise thanks to a viral music video that popularized the “Shmoney dance,” was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday after claiming he was railroaded into taking a guilty plea on charges he conspired with a violent drug gang.
“I want to withdraw my plea,” a defiant Shmurda said during his sentencing in a Manhattan courtroom. “I was forced by my attorney to take the plea. I was forced.”
New York state court Justice Abraham Clott denied the request and imposed the seven-year term that was agreed to as part of a plea deal that spared Shmurda from going to trial on multiple counts carrying penalties that could have put him behind bars for decades.
The 22-year-old Shmurda, whose birth name is Ackquille Pollard, is best known for “Hot Boy,” a gritty hit song with rhymes about gunplay. He and Chad “Rowdy Rebel” Marshall — another aspiring hip-hop artist who also pleaded guilty in the same case — gained notoriety with their performance in the “Shmoney dance” video, which has nearly 15 million YouTube views.
Authorities arrested Shmurda in late 2014 after he left a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall, only days after he performed “Hot Boy” for a national television audience on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Investigators found two handguns and a small amount of crack cocaine in a car in which he was riding, authorities said.
An indictment charged Shmurda and more than 15 defendants with a variety of crimes including murder, attempted murder, assault and drug dealing. Shootings by the gang left one rival dead, injured an innocent bystander sitting on a folding chair outside a Brooklyn home and caused pandemonium outside a nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida, authorities said.
The court papers alleged that Pollard once fired a gun toward a crowd of people outside a barbershop in Brooklyn. They also said he was present last year during a confrontation between rival drug gangs outside a Brooklyn courthouse where shots were fired.
In a jailhouse interview last year with The New York Times, Shmurda criticized his label, Epic Records, for not helping him pay his $2 million bail. Epic hasn’t commented.
He also claimed in another interview with the entertainment website Complex after his guilty plea in September that his case was a sham.
“We had detectives lying, saying they seen us with guns in our hands, but when everything came back there was no DNA, no fingerprints, no nothing. … We’re black kids, these are white people with badges,” he said.
Shmurda’s lawyer has said he could get enough credit for time served and good behavior “to be home in approximately 3 ½ years and resume his remarkable career.”
(Photo Source: AP)