The funeral of rapper Joseph "Lil Jojo" Coleman attracted both friends and police attention this past September. (Posted on: Sep. 14, 2012)
Just weeks after releasing his debut album, "Finally Rich," South Side rapper Chief Keef was taken in handcuffs from juvenile court Tuesday after a Cook County judge ordered him held in custody.
Judge Carl Anthony Walker ruled that Chief Keef had violated his probation for a 2011 gun conviction by holding a rifle at a gun range in New York while a video was being shot last summer.
Prosecutors have been seeking to detain the 17-year-old rap sensation for weeks, most recently alleging that he had violated his probation by moving to a north suburb without telling authorities. Police interest in Chief Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart, grew after he sent a taunting tweet following the slaying of aspiring rapper Lil Jojo in September.
After the judge ordered him taken into custody, Chief Keef emptied his pockets and handed his cellphone to his uncle before a court deputy escorted him from the courtroom in handcuffs, according to his lawyer.
During the approximately two-hour hearing, a gun range employee testified that Chief Keef was holding the rifle during an on-camera interview by Pitchfork Media, an Internet-based music publication.
The judge ruled that by holding the firearm, Chief Keef violated the terms of his 18-month probation sentence for pointing a gun at a Chicago police officer in 2011, according to Andy Conklin, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office.
The rapper is scheduled to be sentenced before Walker on Thursday. Until then, he will be locked up in the juvenile holding facility.
Chief Keef's grandmother, Margaret Carter, was disappointed with the judge's ruling and was unsure what to expect at the sentencing.
"I don't play Jesus Christ like y'all do," she told a Tribune reporter in a phone call. "We don't know what Thursday will bring us."
When news of the rapper's incarceration went viral Tuesday afternoon, supporters on Twitter urged that he be freed while others insisted he stay locked up.
Chief Keef's lawyer, Dennis Berkson, didn't contest that his client was holding the rifle, but he argued Tuesday that the rapper did not break the law because he was merely holding the weapon to promote his album, which was released Dec. 18.
Berkson added that his client never took the weapon away from the gun range.
"It was a promotion. Just like a movie," Berkson said. "There was no intent on his part to possess a gun."
Chicago police have been looking into whether Chief Keef and his allies played a role in the Sept. 4 slaying of Lil Jojo, whose real name was Joseph Coleman. The slaying garnered national attention after Chief Keef sent the taunting tweet about the slain 18-year-old hours after the killing. Chief Keef received mostly negative feedback from his more than 200,000 Twitter followers before he claimed his account had been hacked.
Chicago police also believe Coleman's death was part of an ongoing gang dispute between the Brick Squad faction of the Gangster Disciples and the rival Lamron faction of the Black Disciples. Law enforcement sources have said that Coleman was a reputed Brick Squad member, while Chief Keef was purported to be affiliated with Lamron. The sources have also said that a number of later shootings were thought to be linked to Coleman's slaying.
Neither Chief Keef nor his rap allies have been charged with any wrongdoing in Coleman's slaying or any other shootings.
Earlier this month, prosecutors alleged that Chief Keef violated his probation by moving to Northbrook without notifying officials, but Judge Walker disagreed, saying prosecutors had not presented "any credible evidence" that the teen had moved from his Dolton home.
At the time, Berkson said the rapper was spending a lot of time recording songs in the Northbrook home of his manager, where they had set up a studio.
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