FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - A Fulton County judge has denied Atlanta rapper Gunna bond for a RICO charge at an arraignment hearing Monday morning. The judge said he is putting off the decision on whether to provide bond for rapper Young Thug until June 2, while he resolves a conflict of interest issue.
The rapper, whose real name is Sergio Kitchens, was booked into a jail in Atlanta on May 11 as part of a sweeping gang indictment that also named 27 other people, including fellow Atlanta rapper Young Thug. Fulton County prosecutors allege those named in the indictment are members of the Young Slime Life (YSL) gang, which has engaged in criminal activity in the city since 2012.
On a Zoom video shown in court, Gunna pleaded not guilty to one charge of violating Georgia's anti-racketeering law.
Fulton County prosecutors, however, allege the YSL group that Kitchens was a part in engaged in criminal activity in the city for a decade. All defendants named in the indictment have been charged with violating the RICO act.
The prosecution argued that Kitchens was "not just an associate" of the group, saying that he was a "documented gang member" who was "one of the bosses" and was in a "command position" in the group who "direct their troops into combat."
In court, the state pointed out Kitchens' four previous arrests and cited songs where he and fellow defendant Young Thug are "followed in their gang persona by snipers" with additional references to weapons and violence.
The Fulton County judge denied bond, saying that he was concerned about the possible "danger to witnesses and other folks tied to this." He set Kitchens' trial date for Jan. 9, 2023 and said he may consider bond for good cause at a later date.
Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the stage name Young Thug, appears before a judge via video link from the Fulton County Jail on May 10, 2022. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)
The judge delayed a ruling on bond for rapper Young Thug, whose legal name is Jeffery Williams. The judge is resolving an issue regarding a "conflict of interest," which prosecutors raised during the hearing.
Days after Williams' arrest, a judge denied him bond, but his defense attorney Brian Steel is pushing for an emergency bond due to what he calls "inhumane" and "dungeon-like" conditions in the jail.
The attorney says the rapper has spent days in isolation "as if he is a forgotten person alone in the world."
The motion seeks better conditions and contends that overhead light is kept on 24 hours a day, preventing Williams from sleeping. Williams’ attorneys also said he is being served "inedible" food, and hasn’t been given the opportunity to exercise, shower or interact with anyone other than his lawyers.
The Cobb County Sheriff’s Office has said Williams is being held in administrative solitary confinement for his own safety, and that the lights stay on so officers can check in and make sure that he is all right.
Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the stage name Young Thug, was arrested on May 9, 2022. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)
His attorney is waiting on a response to get an emergency hearing.
If convicted of the RICO charge, Williams could face up to 20 years.
Young Thug and Gunna performances canceled after arrests
Upcoming performances for Young Thug and Gunna have been canceled due to the charges filed and the denial of bond in the ongoing investigation.
Last week, some ticket holders received refunds for Young Thug's upcoming concert at State Farm Arena.
Williams was expected to host the Young Thug and Friends concert on Saturday, June 18 at the arena.
Gunna, who was also charged with RICO and arrested a few days after Williams, has canceled his concert with Roddy Ricch at Ontario's Toyota Arena on May 28. He was also set to play at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta for Hot 107.9's Birthday Bash in July.
What is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act?
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, was developed to fight organized crime. It was enacted in 1970 after being signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
Federally, RICO was originally was intended to be used to combat the Mafia. It draws from a list of 27 federal crimes and eight state crimes committed repeated over the course of a 10-year period. Those crimes can include fraud, theft, computer crimes, embezzlement, credit scams, investment schemes, human trafficking, illegal gambling, bribery, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, counterfeiting, and various drug charges.
The Justice Department has used RICO to dismantle multiple crime families and weed out corruption in several city police departments. Prosecutors have also used RICO to try to dismantle several street gangs and helped in prosecuting businesses that break federal law.
Georgia’s RICO statutes are similar to the federal version , but are much broader in that the criminal "enterprise" does not have to be around as long. Georgia is one of only 33 states that has its own RICO statutes. However, in both state and federal laws, a pattern of criminal enterprise has to be established.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.