ATLANTA — Rayshawn Bennett, better known as musical performer YFN Lucci, is among a dozen suspects indicted in a 75-page, 105 count racketeering indictment focused on factions within the Bloods street gang.
“This indictment is unprecedented. Period,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told Channel 2 Investigative reporter Mark Winne in an exclusive interview.
“There’s been a huge spike in violent crime,” Willis said. “I made a commitment to bring the best and the brightest minds here, many of which you see sitting here right now so that we could deal with this issue of this violent crime.”
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Joining Willis when she met with Winne were key members of her staff, including recent hire Mike Carlson, one of the state’s most renowned gang law experts, RICO expert John Floyd and lead gang unit prosecutor Cara Convery, as well as top law enforcement officials.
“The first thing that we had to do was recognize that there is an absolute gang problem in this county and that we were gonna take a strong stance against that,” Willis said.
Willis said she and her team used a YouTube Music Video entitled “Shine On” to shine the light on the alleged gang associations of the two performers, YFN Lucci and Bloody Jay, who are both named in the indictment. The indictment says the video includes lyrics promoting criminal gang activity.
Convery says investigators also used social media posts to help build their gang case.
“It’s a way to show who you are and who you’re tied to and what you’re willing to do to maintain that position of power,” she said.
Lucci’s lawyer, Drew Findling, told Winne his client is not guilty of all charges.
“He’s not a gang member. What he is is an internationally recognized musical artist that is a triple platinum winner, that has performed all over the United States and all over the world,” Findling said. “His first amendment right to musically express himself is no different than the famous rock song ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’ It’s not criminal activity.”
Bloody Jay, whose real name is Justin Ushery, told Winne by phone he’s not involved in a gang or committing crimes, saying, “I make music.”
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The indictment suggests Lucci is an associate of the Bloods and the allegations against him include tampering with evidence of a homicide by concealing a crime scene and vehicle by hiding it, assaulting someone by strangulation, and encouraging the striking and kicking of that person for playing rival gang music.
Lucci is already facing a felony murder charge in connection to the shooting death of a man in December.
Willis says the felony murder allegations against Lucci and some others in the RICO case involve the homicide for which Lucci’s already been released on bond.
“We believe that it is part of a bigger picture,” Willis said.
Atlanta Police Captain Jason Smith says the investigation lasted more than six months and involved the DA’s office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Atlanta Police Department and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office.
“I think that it sends a significant message, a profound message that regardless of your status that the City of Atlanta and Fulton County in partnership is coming after you if you violate the crimes in our county, in our city,” said Atlanta Police Interim Chief Rodney Bryant.
“Of the national gang, criminal street gang the bloods, there’s at least four subsets involved in this particular indictment and investigation,” said GBI Gang Task Force Special Agent in Charge Ken Howard.
“Some people don’t understand the depth in which the gangs have infiltrated, for lack of a better word, our communities and its time for them to go,” said Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat.
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