The New Jersey native — born Willie Junior Maxwell II — pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess controlled substances in August 2022. Federal authorities accused him of being part of a “multimillion-dollar bicoastal drug distribution organization” that moved more than 100 kilograms of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine across Long Island and New Jersey between June 2019 and June 2020.
Fetty Wap’s legal representation made the case for a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence rather than the prosecutor’s recommended 87 to 108 months. According to a memorandum filed on May 17th by his attorney Elizabeth Macedonio and reported by XXL, the New Jersey native’s involvement in the “instant offense” stemmed from “depression” and compounding “financial obligations” exacerbated by the onset of COVID-19.
Macedonio stated, “In or about 2020, with the coming of the worldwide pandemic, things began to change for Mr. Maxwell. There were no opportunities to perform, thus his income was severely limited.” The document went on to list a series of setbacks that occurred prior to his alleged drug operation, sharing, “he was sued personally, was going through a divorce, and was involved with a tour manager who was stealing from him,” while further adding that he “lost his grandparents and several other people who were close to him.”
“Depression and panic began to set in,” the statement continued. “As stated, Mr. Maxwell took enormous pride in his ability to provide for his children and lend support to his other family members. He is described as a people pleaser and a person who gains great satisfaction from taking care of others. Suddenly it felt like life was going in reverse and he became ashamed when he began to struggle to keep up the lifestyle that he created for so many. His judgment became impaired. Desperate to keep up with his financial obligations, Mr. Maxwell became involved in the instant offense for a few months in the spring of 2020.”
Prosecutors claimed Fetty Wap used his fame to “glamorize the drug trade” while making millions from his music, pointing to the massive commercial success of “Trap Queen” and the child extras in the music video. “Young people who admire the defendant and are considering selling drugs need to be sent a message that selling drugs is not a glamorous lifestyle and, if they participate in that trade, they will receive lengthy prison sentences,” wrote US attorney Breon Peace, advocating for an even longer prison sentence.
TMZ reports that the full set of legal documents submitted to on behalf of the rapper included letters from family and friends that affirmed his tendency to support them financially. Meanwhile, Breon Peace from the office of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York argued that the rapper “has used, and continues to use, his fame, sizeable platform and influence to glamorize the drug trade.”
Editor’s Note: This story originally ran on May 21st, 2023. It has been updated to include details of Fetty Wap’s sentencing.