South Florida

Rapper Kodak Black won’t be going home before trial on weapons charges as judge denies bail

Kodak Black performs on the “Dab Stage” at the Rolling Loud music festival on Dec. 16, 2017, in San Bernardino, Calif.
Kodak Black performs on the “Dab Stage” at the Rolling Loud music festival on Dec. 16, 2017, in San Bernardino, Calif. TNS

South Florida rapper Kodak Black, locked up by the feds on weapons charges, isn’t going home anytime soon.

A Miami federal judge on Wednesday took back a bond that a magistrate had given the popular artist two weeks ago after his arrest during the Rolling Loud music festival at the Hard Rock Stadium earlier this month.

U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno said he was concerned about Black’s criminal history, even though the 21-year-old performer has not been convicted as an adult, and even more troubled by his desire to buy firearms.

Moreno zeroed in on new federal charges accusing Black of lying on a background form about not being charged with a crime when he bought three handguns in January and tried to buy more in March at a Hialeah weapons store. At the time, Black was still facing charges of sexually assaulting a female fan in a hotel in South Carolina three years ago.

“I’m very concerned with the type of guns he wanted to get a hold of ... and that he has a prior [criminal history],” Moreno said, citing Black’s string of offenses as a juvenile and an adult. “He was out on bond [from the South Carolina case], and he committed an offense. I think he’s a danger to the community because he wants to have access to guns.”

Earlier this month, Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres said he granted a $550,000 bond with conditions of house arrest and electronic monitoring, anticipating that Black would soon be transferred to state authorities in South Carolina, where he is awaiting trial on the sexual assault charges. State authorities there have moved to revoke Black’s bond in that case because of the new federal weapons charges in Miami, court records show.

Moreno said the South Carolina case has dragged on and that he is more interested in scheduling Black’s trial on the weapons charges later this summer.

Black’s defense attorney, Bradford Cohen, argued for a bond for his client, saying that the only reason Black bought the handguns was because of “legitimate threats made” against him by others in the notoriously violent rap industry. That only seemed to concern Moreno even more, who repeatedly talked about the potential for violence around guns during Wednesday’s hearing.

Cohen said he might appeal Moreno’s decision denying Black a bond before trial.

Federal prosecutor Bruce Brown was stung by the magistrate’s earlier decision allowing the rapper a bond, and immediately appealed to Moreno.

To bolster his point against bail, Brown filed court papers claiming that one of the handguns illegally purchased by Black was used in an attempt to shoot another rapper in Pompano Beach in March.

“A rival rap artist was the intended target,” Brown said in the filing.

That explosive issue, however, didn’t come up at Wednesday’s detention hearing.

Instead, Cohen downplayed his client’s criminal past and said he was also willing to pay for 24-hour supervision by a former federal agent while under house arrest at his home in Miramar. Cohen challenged the prosecutor’s claim that Black is a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Cohen accused the prosecutor of exaggerating Black’s “storied criminal history,” noting that while he has been arrested several times he has not been convicted of a felony as an adult. Cohen said his client had only been convicted as a youthful offender.

Moreno sharply disagreed with Cohen’s portrayal, saying Black was a danger to the community. However, the judge conceded that he didn’t think the rapper was a flight risk.

In Miami federal court, Black is charged with lying about his criminal history during a background check when he purchased three firearms at a licensed gun dealer in Hialeah on Jan. 25 and again when he attempted to buy more weapons on March 1. The purchases were approved the first time because Black, whose legal name is Bill K. Kapri, also altered his Social Security number on a federal form for the background check. He used his actual number during the second purchase, which was ultimately blocked because the check showed that he was facing previous criminal charges in South Carolina.

In his appeal on Black’s bond, the prosecutor said one of the handguns that the rapper purchased in January at Lou’s Police Distributors — a Sig MPXK9 for more than $2,000 — was recovered at the March 7 shooting that targeted an unnamed rival artist in the low-income Golden Acres section of Pompano Beach.

“The firearm had a live round in the chamber and apparently jammed during the shooting,” Brown wrote to Moreno. “Fingerprints taken off the firearm belonged to the defendant.”

Brown said Broward Sheriff’s deputies found the loaded Sig MPXK9 left at the scene by the shooters — along with “several spent casings” that were possibly discharged from other firearms.

News media reports indicate there were two shootings on the evening of March 7 in the Golden Acres neighborhood, but it’s unclear whether they were related to the incident involving Black’s Sig handgun on the same date. Gunshots were fired at two homes — including one with three children inside — in the 1600 block of NW 14th Circle.

Black was arrested on the weapons-form charges before the Rolling Loud concert on May 11 by federal agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Marshals and Miami-Dade’s Northside gangs unit. The rapper is also facing separate weapons charges in Miami-Dade state criminal court.

Black, who grew up in Pompano Beach, has skyrocketed to popularity over the past six years. His December 2018 album, “Dying to Live,” debuted at the top of the Billboard albums chart. Black’s hits include songs such as “Tunnel Vision,” “No Flockin” and ″Wake Up in the City” with Gucci Mane and Bruno Mars.

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