Friday, November 7, 2008

Rapper, Diddy’s cousin sentenced in BMF sting

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2008 at 4:43 PM

click to enlarge “Big Meech” Flenory (right) was like a big brother to Barima “Bleu DaVinci” McKnight.
  • “Big Meech” Flenory (right) was like a big brother to Barima “Bleu DaVinci” McKnight.

NOTE: This post is a slightly longer version of a story that appeared in this week's print edition of Creative Loafing.

The Black Mafia Family continued to unravel last week when a parade of the cocaine ring’s affiliates was sentenced in federal court in Atlanta. Among them were two defendants with strong ties to the hip-hop industry.

What’s more, all but one of the 10 defendants to plead guilty — Deron “D-Shock” "D-Shot" Hall — agreed to share information with the government, further shattering the once ironclad code of silence that blanketed the $270 million drug enterprise. Of the six additional defendants named in the Atlanta indictment [PDF], five are still scheduled for trial, one was convicted at trial and one remains a fugitive.

Darryl “Poppa” Taylor, the first cousin of New York-based music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, received a three-year sentence reduction for his substantial assistance in the government’s investigation into BMF, which was headed by brothers Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory. The Flenorys each received 30-year sentences in a separate case in Detroit.

In a court proceeding last year, Taylor said he was introduced to Terry Flenory by Combs’ chief of security, Paul Buford. Buford was indicted along with the Flenory brothers in 2005, but his case has not been resolved. Combs, who’s been described in court documents as a friend of the Flenorys, hasn’t been accused of any unlawful behavior related to BMF.

Taylor’s attorney, Steve Sadow, told the judge last week that Taylor — in addition to info he shared about Terry Flenory — might be able to offer the government insight into “activities going on in the Northeast.”

Had Taylor not cooperated in the investigation, he would have received a minimum of 10 years in federal prison, where there is no parole. Instead, he got just over seven years.

Barima “Bleu DaVinci” McKnight, the rapper who became the face of the Black Mafia Family’s now defunct record label, was sentenced to five years and four months. The sentence was eight months less than the government’s recommendation, due in part to him agreeing to share information with the feds — although he wasn’t willing to testify against other defendants.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney said that McKnight, by cooperating “fully and truthfully,” qualified for a federal “safety valve,” which allows the judge to hand down a sentence that’s lower than the mandatory minimum. According to federal sentencing law, a safety valve requires that, “not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the defendant has truthfully provided to the Government all information and evidence the defendant has concerning the offense or offenses.”

By the time McKnight was debriefed early last week, however, the government already had built most of its case against BMF.

“He would have liked to have cooperated if he could have,” McKnight's attorney, David MacKusick, said. “But he didn’t have any useful information.

McKnight released one album, The World is BMF’s, on Big Meech’s record label. He has performed alongside such A-list rappers as Young Jeezy, who also has been linked to BMF. Jeezy hasn’t been charged with a crime in relation to the cocaine crew.

A tearful McKnight told the court he got involved in the BMF record label as a rapper — and took a detour into the BMF cocaine ring. He said “Big Meech” Flenory, who treated him like a little brother, tried to steer him away from the drug trade.

“Demetrius did not show me that part of his world when I first met him,” McKnight said. “I got onto the wrong side of the track.”

(Photo courtesy Tammy Cowins)

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