Rapper Rick Ross, born William Leonard Roberts, and his bodyguard Nardrian Lateef James pled no contest on Tuesday in a Georgia criminal court, to misdemeanor kidnapping and assault charges. Both Ross and James received a sentence of five years probation for the incident which took place on Ross’ Fayetteville estate in 2015.
Rick Ross’ music is filled with nihilistic tales of vivid murder scenes, multi-million dollar cocaine sales, and unattainable luxury assets over lush instrumentals. Obviously, just as any other entertainer, Ross’ artistic depiction of a Miami kingpin differs from his everyday real life. However, one day in the summer of 2015 Ross’ real life events seemed to eerily match a plot line in one of his creative story-raps. According to court documents, Ross and James walked into his sprawling Fayetteville mansion (once owned by boxer Evander Holyfield) after a long time out of town. To his surprise he finds his groundskeeper having an unauthorized cocaine-fueled party in Ross’ home.
After this discovery, Ross forced the groundskeeper into his guest house and held him in a bedroom for several hours, according to police. During that time, the victim was allegedly beaten with a handgun. The victim, lost the use of his jaw and was unable to chew his own food. The victim also has two chipped teeth, a neck injury and numerous scratches and bruises, according to court documents. After the incident, the groundskeeper went to the authorities who launched an investigation. On June 24, 2015, members of the U.S. Marshals Southeastern Regional Task Force executed arrest warrants on William Roberts and Nadrian James. They were arrested in Fayette, Georgia without incident as a result of this investigation.
Under OCGA § 16-5-40 (a), “[a] person commits the offense of kidnapping when he abducts or steals away any person without lawful authority or warrant and holds such person against his will.” Therefore, the elements of kidnapping are (1) an illegal holding, (2) an overmastering of the victim’s will, and (3) an asportation of the victim.[i]
A person convicted of the offense of kidnapping shall be punished by:
- Imprisonment for not less than ten nor more than 20 years if the kidnapping involved a victim who was 14 years of age or older;
- Imprisonment for life or by a split sentence that is a term of imprisonment for not less than 25 years and not exceeding life imprisonment, followed by probation for life, if the kidnapping involved a victim who is less than 14 years of age;
- Life imprisonment or death if the kidnapping was for ransom; or
- Life imprisonment or death if the person kidnapped received bodily injury.
A person convicted shall, in addition, be subject to the sentencing and punishment provisions of Code Sections 17-10-6.1 and 17-10-7. According to Section 17-10-6.1, any person convicted of kidnapping involving a victim who is 14 years of age or older will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years.
However, Ross and his bodyguard were able to avoid these dire consequences as they accepted a plea deal on this matter. Ross pleaded no contest to one felony count of aggravated assault, while the other charges were dropped. He was previously jailed in 2015 for the events and was sentenced this week as a first time offender. He struck a deal where he would pay a $10,000 fine and have the conviction erased from his record. He also pled no contest to five misdemeanors of assault battery, possession and two counts of pointing a pistol at an individual, according to TMZ. The “Hustlin” MC received a 60-month probation as a result of the deal.
Georgia probation laws provide a mechanism for punishing those found guilty of a crime without the expense and hardship of incarceration. This can permit the probationer an opportunity to avoid prison, or to reintegrate into society after having served time in prison, and reduces expenses and prison crowding for the state. However, sometimes probation can be a tricky proposition. Probationers are assigned a probation officer [PO] who oversees their case and makes determinations that can result in the revocation of the probation if the probationer fails to meet any of the many requirements to qualify for the program.
According to Georgia Code, Title 42, Chapter 8, Georgia probation laws require that the probationer:
- avoid injurious and vicious habits;
- avoid persons or places of disreputable character;
- report to their PO as directed;
- permit the PO to visit them at their home or elsewhere;
- work faithfully at suitable employment, to the extent possible;
- remain within a specified location;
- repay anyone damaged by their offense per the order of the court;
- repay the municipality or county for medical care they received while incarcerated;
- repay costs for any wrongful acts committed while an inmate;
- support their dependents, to the extent possible;
- avoid violating local, state, and federal laws;
- waive extradition, if out of state travel or relocation is permitted;
- submit to rehabilitation tests and evaluations;
- wear a tracking device;
- complete substance abuse or mental health treatment as indicated by a risk and needs assessment;
- agree to graduated sanctions when the PO finds they are warranted; and
- pay for drug screenings.
Ironically, Ross boasts about several of these restricted items in several of his raps. Regardless, Ross will be under a large amount of scrutiny once his probation formally begins. On a positive note, since the summer 2015 incident Ross has seemingly been on a good path. The Miami representative bought several Wing Stop fast food restaurants, created a scholarship program, and released an album, Rather You Than Me last month to critical acclaim and decent record sales.