PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia judge has sentenced rapper Meek Mill to two to four years in state prison for violating probation in a nearly decade-old gun and drug case.
When sentencing the 30-year-old musician Monday, Common Pleas Judge Genece Brinkley cited a failed drug test and a failure to comply with a court order restricting his travel.
“I gave you break after break and you basically just thumbed your nose at this court,” Brinkley told Mill. She said Mill’s sentence would be served in state prison where he would be eligible for state parole supervision after two years.
McMonagle, who earlier this year represented comedian Bill Cosby in his sexual assault trial, declined to comment on the hearing or Brinkley’s decision. But when asked whether he would appeal the sentence, shot back: “You’re goddamned right I am.”
Before he was sentenced, Mill addressed the judge for 40 minutes, pleading for mercy and insisting that his “technical probation violations” were mistakes and not disrespect of the judge.
“I’m human. I’m not perfect,” Mill told Brinkley. “I’m asking for mercy. You gave me the ladder to do what I have to do to prevail in my struggle. I made it this far, I can’t really go back and start over.”
Brinkley, 61, a city judge since 2003, has overseen Mill’s case since the beginning, dealing with the rapper using a mix of exasperation and encouragement, memorably ordering him to take etiquette lessons in 2013 after he complained about the judge, prosecutor and probation officer in less-than-flattering street slang in internet posts so he would know how to act in public and online.
On Monday, however, Brinkley had clearly had enough. Mill was twice arrested this year and went into treatment for addiction to the prescription narcotic Percocet. She also cited him and his managers for repeatedly scheduling concerts after her Aug. 17 order barring performances outside of Philadelphia or Montgomery County.
One such performance was set for Nov. 4 at Syracuse University in New York, then was cancelled 1½ weeks before. Disappointed students mounted a phone and email campaign to try to convince Brinkley to allow Mill to perform.
Brinkley also recounted visiting Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia after she ordered Mill to feed the homeless at the church as community service. She said she visited one night and found him not feeding the homeless but sorting clothing.
“It was only when you realized that I came there to check on you that you decided to serve meals,” Brinkley said.
Monday’s hearing was the first before Brinkley where neither the city prosecutor nor Mill’s probation officer recommended jail time.
Born in South Philadelphia, Mills grew up around North Philly; his father was murdered when he was 5. He’s infused his music with his experiences growing up in a poor, single-parent home. His career took off after his 2009 release from prison.
His third album, Wins and Losses, climbed quickly to No. 3 on Billboards albums chart after its release this summer. Its 2015 predecessor, Dreams Worth More Than Money, entered the charts at No. 1. Almost as much attention has been giving to his two-year romance with rapper, singer-songwriter Nicky Minaj, which ended this year.
In October, Mill pleaded guilty in Manhattan to reckless driving charges after he was arrested for doing wheelies and other stunts on a dirt bike on city streets and then posting video of his performance online.
He was also arrested in March for fighting at a St. Louis airport — although those charges were dropped after he agreed to perform community service for the Veterans Association in Philadelphia.
On Monday, McMonagle argued that both incidents were part of the hazards faced by celebrities. The St. Louis incident, McMonagle said, was precipitated by an airport worker who was miffed because Mill would not pose for a picture. That worker was later fired and and is being criminally prosecuted, McMonagle said.
The sentence came as a surprise after prosecutors recommended Mill not be imprisoned for the probation violations, noting he’s been off drugs since January and has complied with most requirements of probation.
But Brinkley says she’s been trying to help Mill for about a decade and that he just does whatever he wants.
Mill’s lawyer has vowed to appeal.
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