Chief Keef belongs back in jail for his own safety, prosecutors say
BY FRANK MAIN AND JON SEIDEL Staff Reporters October 17, 2012 12:48PM
WARNING: Graphic content, language
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- Anger over Chief Keef’s Tweet mocking rival’s murder explodes online
- Latest victim of rap war?
- Chief Keef and Lil JoJo: A rap feud straight outta Englewood
- Record companies feed off violence
- Will Chief Keef's incarceration stall his career before it starts?
- Cops plan citations for posters promoting Chief Keef’s new album
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:10PM
Rising rap star Chief Keef belongs behind bars for his own safety, Cook County prosecutors said in juvenile court Wednesday.
The Chicago singer, whose real name is Keith Cozart, faces possible retribution for the fatal shooting last month of up-and-coming rapper Joseph “Lil JoJo” Coleman, Cook County prosecutors said.
Chief Keef isn’t implicated in the Sept. 4 slaying of JoJo, 18, but police are investigating whether the killing was linked to a war of words between the two.
On Wednesday, prosecutors asked Judge Carl Anthony Walker to put Chief Keef in juvenile detention for two alleged violations of probation he received in an unrelated gun case. The judge said he won’t lock up Chief Keef, 17, before he holds a hearing Nov. 20 but he added: “I really believe this minor should be placed on electronic home monitoring.”
Chicago Police officials said they wanted Chief Keef placed in juvenile detention to protect himself and others — and to send a message that everyone, including celebrities, must follow the law.
“Anytime he is in Chicago, he is a potential target and anyone around him is in jeopardy, including innocent kids,” said Nicholas Roti, chief of the Chicago Police Department’s Organized Crime Bureau.
“This is an example of people who are associated with violence in Chicago who aren’t held accountable for their actions,” Roti said.
Chief Keef planned to return to California on Wednesday, said his attorney, Dennis Berkson. He has been living on the West Coast since JoJo was killed.
Chief Keef, who’s on the same record label as rap superstar 50 Cent, is working in the studio and touring, Berkson said.
Last month, the judge approved Chief Keef’s move to Los Angeles in an effort to protect him from violence here. Berkson emphasized that his client is safe in California and doesn’t deserve to be locked up in Chicago.
“He has been a model young man,” said Berkson, adding that Chief Keef had nothing to do with JoJo’s “unfortunate demise.”
As he left court Wednesday, Chief Keef raised his hands in a show of victory. Earlier, he had predicted he would be released, saying to a reporter, “It’s a piece of cake.”
Late Wednesday, defiant messages were posted on Chief Keef’s Twitter account.
“Prosecutors want me back in jail?! I aint going!!!! ... IM out here tryin to get this money & they wanna stop me from shining!!!”
During a break in the hearing, Chief Keef lingered in a courthouse hallway, singing snippets of his raps. One young girl, awaiting her own court hearing nearby, heard him singing, then posed with Chief Keef and her mother for a quick iPhone photo.
At one point Wednesday, he was chided by his probation officer for signing court papers “Chief Keef” instead of his real name.
He wore baggy fatigues, a white T-shirt, an oversize gold watch, new Michael Jordan gym shoes and a blue down vest to his hearing. As he waited for his case, one woman scolded him, saying, “Young man in the blue jacket, pull your pants up!”
He is serving 18 months of probation for pointing a gun at a Chicago cop. He was also found delinquent on two other felonies.
Prosecutors argued he violated the probation by holding a rifle in an online Pitchfork video.
Prosecutors pointed to the recorded promotional interview the rapper did in June at a gun range in New York, where he can be seen with a rifle. That’s a violation, prosecutors said, because his probation bans him from having any guns or illegal drugs or associating with gang members.
Chief Keef also didn’t get his GED by the August deadline set in his probation — another violation, prosecutors said.
Chief Keef’s attorney, Berkson, acknowledged the gun range video was “stupid” but argued it was not his client’s fault because he was simply listening to advice from adults.
Berkson also apologized for the delay on the GED. He said the rapper was working on it and had switched tutors because he was living in California recently while he was recording songs for Interscope Records.
Prosecutors cited other aggravating factors for the judge to consider. Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Jullian Brevard noted that on Sept. 30, Chicago Police officers responded to a call of a gang disturbance in the 6300 block of South King Drive and found the rapper there associating with Black Disciple gang members.
“I don’t know how he knows who is in a gang . . . and who is in the Boy Scouts,” Berkson responded.
The rapper failed to provide a current phone number to his probation officer and was out of touch for about two weeks, authorities added.
“He is still blowing off this court. He is still doing what he wants to do,” Brevard said, noting that his “whole image is that he is a tough guy.”
“Everybody should be treated the same,” Brevard told the judge.
The concern for Chief Keef’s safety stems from a rap that JoJo posted, disrespecting the Black Disciples street gang.
JoJo was a reputed member of the Gangster Disciples and Chief Keef has shown an allegiance to the Black Disciples in his Twitter messages and music.
Members of Chief Keef’s entourage were feuding online with JoJo for months before his slaying.
Hours after JoJo was killed in a drive-by shooting in Englewood, Chief Keef’s Twitter account carried a message that included the hashtag #LMAO, mocking his death. The acronym stands for “laughing my ass off.”
Later, Twitter messages from the same account denied that Chief Keef sent the message, saying his account was hacked. Another said: “My prayers go out 2 Jojo’s family on their loss.”
While police have not tied Chief Keef to JoJo’s murder, they say it prompted JoJo’s faction of Gangster Disciples in Englewood to lash out at the Black Disciples on another side of the neighborhood. Detectives think at least one other killing may have resulted from the feud since JoJo was killed, sources said.