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Brooklyn Rapper Bobby Shmurda to be Eligible for Release from Prison in February

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Taylor Hill/Getty Images Bobby Shmurda performs during Power 105.1's Powerhouse 2014 at Barclays Center on Oct. 30, 2014 in New York City.

Brooklyn rapper Bobby Shmurda will be eligible for release from prison next month, the New York State Department of Corrections said on Monday.

What We Know:

  • Shmurda, whose government name is Ackquille Pollard, was convicted to seven years after declaring guilty to conspiracy and weapons possession charges related to what prosecutors state was a principal role in the GS9 gang, The New York Times reported. GS9 is a branch of the Crips in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn.
  • Authorities detained Shmurda in late 2014 after leaving a recording studio near Radio City Music Hall, only days after he played Hot Boy for a national television audience on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Investigators recovered two handguns and a small amount of crack cocaine in a car he was riding in, authorities state.
  • Shmurda was refused parole in September, in part for disciplinary actions taken against him while incarcerated, and finally ordered to his maximum sentence until December 21, 2021. According to the Department of Corrections prisoner database, he is currently detained at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.
  • The Department of Corrections review recently reestablished Shmurda’s “good time,” making him newly qualified for conditional release. If Pollard does end up leaving lockup next month, he will serve the rest of his term under community supervision or parole until December 11, 2021.

  • News of Shmurda’s possible early release comes less than a month after his partner Rowdy Rebel was freed from state prison. The fellow Brooklyn rapper, whose legal name is Chad Marshall, declared guilty, together with Pollard and Nicholas “Flea Montana” McCoy, in September 2016 to fourth-degree conspiracy and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
  • “I’m glad he’s coming home,” stated Alex Spiro, a lawyer who represented Shmurda in the criminal trial. In the years after his arrest, Shmurda has become something similar to a folk hero in hip-hop; fans and other artists have highly awaited his release.

Shmurda is qualified for conditional release as of February 23, with the remainder of his sentence to be served on parole.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Crime

New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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Crime

R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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