Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Hip-Hop Promoter Gets Life in Prison in NYC Drug Case

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013  |  Updated 5:12 PM EDT
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A hip-hop promoter was sentenced to life in prison on Friday on charges he moonlighted as a drug kingpin who made a fortune by smuggling vast amounts of cocaine into New York City, sometimes by concealing it in music equipment cases.

James "Jimmy the Henchman" Rosemond was facing a mandatory life term following his guilty verdict on narcotics conspiracy and other charges at a trial last year in federal court in Brooklyn.

Prosecutor Todd Kaminsky told U.S. District Judge John Gleeson that Rosemond, 48, brazenly demonstrated his disregard for the law by continuing his trafficking operation even after he learned he was under investigation. The defendant used the proceeds to buy multiple homes, luxury cars and a six-figure sound system for his Brooklyn loft.

"About every stereotype you can think of about a drug kingpin was reflected in how he lived," Kaminsky said.

Gleeson said he would have put Rosemond behind bars for life even if it wasn't required by law.

"You chose that life and this is the punishment you get," the judge said.

Both Rosemond and his lawyer declined to address the court before the sentence was announced.

Prosecutors had accused Rosemond, founder of Czar Entertainment, of using a variety of methods to smuggle cocaine from Los Angeles to New York. Some of it was shipped in overnight packages slathered in mustard to throw off drug-sniffing dogs.

Rosemond later devised a system that allayed his worries about using the overnight services by hiding the drugs in the music equipment cases and sending them to New York music studios, prosecutors said. The cases were then shipped back to Los Angeles packed with cash.

In 2011, agents seized a road case containing $790,000 packaged in vacuum-sealed plastic in $100,000 bundles, prosecutors said. The seizure prompted Rosemond to switch tactics, stashing drugs in hidden compartments in cars that were transported from coast to coast.

Lawyers for Rosemond claimed he was framed by members of his crew who pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him. They included a Los Angeles dealer who admitted supplying more than 200 pounds to the ring over a two-year period.

Before the sentencing, the judge denied a motion to give Rosemond a new trial. His attorney had argued that the jury was tainted by unsubstantiated reports linking the defendant to an unsolved shooting that wounded legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.

Shakur survived the 1994 shooting, but was killed two years later in Las Vegas. The slaying remains unsolved.

Rosemond was behind such hits as Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop" and represented The Game and Sean Kingston, according his company's website. Another former client was Michael K. Williams, who played the ruthless outlaw Omar on "The Wire" TV series and now stars in "Boardwalk Empire."

Rosemond still faces separate charges in Manhattan alleging he arranged a murder as payback for an assault on his son.
 
His company's website says he was behind such hits as Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop'' and represented The Game and Sean Kingston.

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