TOM HAYS, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — An up-and-coming rapper pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges he moonlighted as a gun-toting member of a New York City street gang responsible for several shootings during turf wars over drug trafficking.
Ackquille Pollard, who performs under the name Bobby Shmurda, was ordered held on $2 million bail at a hearing in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. 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.”
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.
Greenberg claimed Epic had agreed to help Pollard make bail. A spokesman for the label declined to comment.
Police arrested Pollard on conspiracy, reckless endangerment and gun possession on Wednesday after he left a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall. Police found two handguns and a small amount of crack cocaine in a car in which he was riding, authorities said.
An indictment naming Pollard charges more than 15 defendants with a variety of crimes including murder, attempted murder, assault and drug dealing. The gang’s gun play left one rival dead, injured an innocent bystander sitting on folding chair outside a Brooklyn home and caused pandemonium outside a nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida, authorities said.
Police seized 21 guns during the investigation, 10 of them while making arrests on Wednesday.
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 a New York Police Department unit that made the arrests.
The court papers allege that Pollard fired a gun toward a crowd of people outside a barbershop in Brooklyn earlier this year. They also say he was present last year during a confrontation between rival drug gangs outside a Brooklyn courthouse where shots were fired.
The evidence includes several recorded phone conversations, including some between Pollard and gang members serving time on Rikers Island, the indictment says. The gang used code words, referring to firearms as “tone,” ”socks” or “CDs,” narcotics as “crills,” and shootings as “sun tans,” it says.
During a conversation on April 28, Pollard bragged, “I am two socks Bobby right now,” the indictment says. Another defendant commented, “Bobby out here with two CDs on him like in the wild wild west or something.”
A “Hot Boy” video posted on YouTube in August has been viewed tens of millions of times, and Pollard performed the song for a national television audience this month on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“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. If convicted of conspiracy, he faces a maximum sentence of 8 to 25 years in prison.
Associated Press writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.
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