James Rosemond was a hip-hop manager who once represented such famed artists as Salt-N-Pepa, the Game, Akon and Brandy.
Jimmy Henchman, Rosemond’s alter ego, was once one of the most feared men in hip-hop. He reportedly ordered the 1994 robbery and shooting of Tupac Shakur at Quad Recording Studios in New York City. Henchman is currently “serving nine life terms for drug trafficking and murder for hire,” the Washington Post reports.
So it would take a miracle for Henchman to ever walk the streets as a free man, but Henchman’s family thought that an orange-skinned miracle worker had granted their wish when then-President Trump began granting pardons to rappers Kodak Black and Lil Wayne on his way out the door.
Big names who wanted Henchman free, “including retired National Football League great Jim Brown and the actor Michael K. Williams, who died last month — argued that Rosemond was unjustly convicted, campaigning for President Barack Obama and then Trump to grant him clemency.”
From the Post:
Late last year, it appeared to Rosemond’s advocates that they had succeeded. On Dec. 18, Trump called Brown and his wife, Monique, according to legal affidavits signed by the Browns. “Let’s get this guy home for Christmas,” Trump told the staff in his office during that call, the Browns said.
By the end of the conversation, the Browns said, they had no doubt that Trump meant he was commuting Rosemond’s sentence. Rosemond’s representatives say that they were told his family should go pick him up the following week and that loved ones traveled to West Virginia to be there when he walked out of prison after a decade inside.
But he never emerged, they say. The family returned home devastated, and Trump left office two months later.
The Browns’ affidavits are now central to a novel legal argument being advanced by Rosemond’s attorneys that speaks to the mad dash at the end of the Trump administration, when celebrity and influence injected even more uncertainty than usual into the unsettled, high-stakes law of presidential clemency.
So on Thursday, Rosemond’s attorneys filed a petition in federal court claiming that Trump’s conversation with Jim and Monique Brown was a commutation of Rosemond’s sentence, which his lawyers believe makes the decision binding and irreversible.
“Rosemond is serving a sentence that no longer exists,” his attorneys write, the Post reports.
“Though the 20-page petition cites obscure examples of informal presidential clemency decrees dating to President Abraham Lincoln’s handling of Civil War deserters, Rosemond’s attorneys acknowledge in the document that ‘this exact situation is unprecedented — it does not appear to have happened in the history of the United States.’”
Mark Osler, a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, told the Post that this is a fascinating position that Rosemond finds himself in.
“They’ve got a good point, which is that the Constitution does not set out a method to the granting of clemency,” Osler said. While most presidents, including Trump, have to sign pardon warrants, “there’s no statute or constitutional provision that requires that.”
But who are we kidding? This is Jimmy Henchman we are talking about. The same man who Loretta E. Lynch, then the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, once called a “thug in a suit” following his life sentence for drug trafficking.
Henchman was later convicted for ordering the murder of Lowell “Lodi Mack” Fletcher, an associate of 50 Cent, during the infamous beef between Fifty and the Game, who Henchman was managing.
But Henchman’s folks claim that the charges levied against him are all bullshit.
More from the Post:
His advocates have maintained that Rosemond’s gangster reputation, including that he was alleged to have shipped cocaine slathered in mustard to thwart drug dogs, was a concoction. They say that he was the victim of headline-seeking prosecutors who utilized lying informants to wrongfully portray him as a kingpin despite a dearth of evidence.
“Jimmy Rosemond got significantly more time than ‘El Chapo,’” said Kimberly Kendall Corral, a lawyer hired by the Browns to advocate for Rosemond, referring to the Mexican drug lord who is serving life in prison plus 30 years. “Meanwhile, the feds wiretapped his phone for two years and never once did he talk about the drug trade.” (Representatives for the Eastern District of New York did not respond to a request for comment, and representatives for the Southern District of New York, where he was also prosecuted, declined.)
Since 2015, Rosemond’s team had petitioned through official channels for presidential clemency, supported by advocates as varied as former New Jersey governor James McGreevey (D), a former New York State Supreme Court judge and boxer Mike Tyson, according to Thursday’s filing.
James Rosemond might get out of prison one day, but I don’t think Jimmy Henchman is ever getting out.