When James Rosemond, aka Jimmy Henchman, was out on the street, he was living two lives. As James Rosemond he was a well-respected music industry executive who worked with popular artists like Brandy, Salt-n-Pepa, Sean Kingston, the Game and Akon.
As Jimmy Henchman, he was a well-respected gangster whose beef with rapper 50 Cent's G-Unit crew lead to Rosemond allegedly orchestrating a hit against G-Unit associate Lowell Fletcher in 2009 for slapping Rosemond's 14-year-old son.
"In the public eye and on the surface, Rosemond was known as an executive in the music industry," Assistant U.S. Attorney Samson Enzer said during opening statements in Manhattan Federal Court, New York's Daily News reports. "But beneath the surface, Rosemond was known as a ruthless criminal who ran his rap business like a street gang."
On Monday, the murder-for-hire trial of Rosemond, 49—who is currently serving a life sentence for masterminding a massive drug enterprise—got under way.
Rosemond's lawyer, J. Bruce Maffeo, asked jurors to be cautious of who was painting the picture of his client.
"These cooperating witnesses … are facing sentences that will literally keep them in prison for the rest of their natural lives."
Rosemond was convicted last year after police found that he was running an $11 million per-year drug ring while using his record label, Czar Entertainment, as a legitimate front, the Daily News reports.
It is believed that at the height of his empire, Rosemond was responsible for most of the cocaine sold in Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y.
The beef between Rosemond and G-Unit began in 2005 after rapper the Game, who was managed by Rosemond, split with the label run by 50 Cent, aka Curtis Jackson.
Allegedly this breakup didn't sit well with Rosemond, who supposedly hired shooters to target G-Unit. According to the Daily News, shootings outside a Manhattan office building, rap radio station Hot 97 and an awards show, weren't enough for Rosemond, the prosecutor said.
According to reports, Tony Yayo and other G-Unit members were leaving Violator Management, which is across the street from Czar Entertainment offices, when they spotted Rosemond's teenage son wearing a Czar Entertainment T-shirt. Words were exchanged and the teen was slapped.
"Rosemond decided that for slapping his son, a member of G-Unit had to die," the prosecutor alleged, the Daily News reports. "His goal was to make sure that members of G-Unit had to carry a coffin."
That member would be Lowell Fletcher.
Enzer claims that Rosemond hired Brian (Slim) McLeod, who had served time with the 33-year-old Fletcher, to lure him to a deserted street in the Bronx, where he was ambushed and gunned down.
"In the darkness of that Sunday night, Lowell Fletcher looked around for Slim," the prosecutor said. "But a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt came out of the shadows, pointed a gun with a silencer and shot … round after round."
Fletcher was shot in the back several times and died later that night. It is alleged that Rosemond paid the hit men with a slab of cocaine worth $30,000, the Daily News reports.
Enzer said security video, cellphone call records and cellphone GPS data will show how Rosemond coordinated the slaying.
Rosemond's lawyer cautioned the jury not to believe anything they hear about his client since all of the testimony is coming from cooperating witnesses who "are individuals who have committed … every crime conceivable to any of us, from dealing drugs at age 13 to shooting at innocent civilians."
Read more at the Daily News.