President Trump pardons Lil Wayne & Kodak Black

Variety | Published: 12:02 PM Jan 20 2021
Entertainment President Trump pardons Lil Wayne & Kodak Black

In the fraught final hours of Donald Trump’s presidency, he issued a raft of pardons, including ones for Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez and rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black.

In an official White House statement released late Tuesday night, Desiree Perez, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. and Bill K. Kapri were all on the clemency list. In total, Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 additional individuals, including former Republican National Committee chairman Elliot Broidy, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Ken Kurson, the former editor of the New York Observer.

Perez was arrested in 1994 for drug possession and in 1998 for grand larceny and possession of a firearm. In 2019, she was named CEO of Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by rapper-turned-mogul Jay-Z that’s home to such artists as Rihanna, Shakira, Alicia Keys, Megan Thee Stallion, Meek Mill and DJ Khaled among others . 

“Ms. Perez was involved in a conspiracy to distribute narcotics,” the White House’s statement reads, presumably referencing her arrest for intent to distribute 36 kilos of cocaine. “Since her conviction, Ms. Perez has taken full accountability for her actions and has turned her life around,”She has been gainfully employed and has been an advocate for criminal justice reform in her community.”

Amid talk of the prices Trump was charging for pardons, some type of deal between him and Wayne, who was facing up to 10 years on a federal gun charge, seems likely: In a flagrant if questionable bid for Black votes, Trump posed for a photo op with Wayne during the closing days of the presidential campaign. Bloomberg reported on Monday that the Trump Administration was preparing pardon paperwork for Wayne.

Wayne pled guilty in federal district court in December for illegally possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun, while traveling to Florida on a private plane in 2019. He could serve up to 10 years in jail, a decision that will be announced during a sentencing hearing on Jan. 28. The rapper previously served eight months in jail in New York, after being convicted of criminal possession of a weapon.

Also on Trump’s list is Florida rapper Black, who in 2019 was sentenced to 46 months in prison on federal weapons charges. Black (born Dieuson Octave) admitted to lying on background-check forms while buying multiple firearms. Two of the weapons were later found by police at crime scenes, including one with Black’s fingerprints and a live round in the chamber that had been used to fire at a “rival rap artist,” according to the New York Times.

Rapper Lil Yachty and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson publicly lobbied Trump to pardon Black, who wrote in a now-deleted tweet that he would donate $1 million to charity if Trump released him.

Among those hoping for a pardon was Joe Exotic, the star of the Netflix series “Tiger King,” who is serving a 22-year sentence in a murder-for-hire plot. However, his name was not on the list.

Trump had already pardoned several close associates caught up in the special counsel probe of Russian election interference, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, campaign manager Paul Manafort, and adviser Roger Stone.

He also pardoned Charles Kushner, the father of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance charges.

Trump had also previously pardoned members of Congress who had been early supporters of his campaign, including Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and Rep. Chris Collins of New York. He had issued pardons to prominent business figures as well, including Michael Milken, Conrad Black, and former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

At the urging of Kim Kardashian West and other celebrities, Trump had also become interested in using his pardon power to curb excessive drug sentences in some cases. He pardoned Alice Marie Johnson, a criminal justice reform advocate who was sentenced to a life term for drug trafficking. Johnson praised the president at the Republican convention last year, and Trump issued several other pardons at Johnson’s urging.

Variety | Published: 12:02 PM Jan 20 2021

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