Last week, New York City rapper Ronald “Ra Diggs” Herron was convicted in federal court on 21 counts, including drug trafficking, racketeering, and murder.
Herron, the alleged leader of a Bloods gang faction and ongoing drug ring based out of a Brooklyn housing project, was a member of the rap group Murda Team along with Uncle Murda. Both rappers testified during the trial that their real lives were not as gangsta as their rap personas implied.
“Sometimes we exaggerate things to sound like the best thing out there,” said Uncle Murda when asked about lyrics in a song that claims he refused medical attention after suffering a graze wound to the head.
Murda also told the jury that Herron didn’t even own a car and would borrow his girlfriend’s vehicle to get around. He also testified that they routinely spent anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 a night on bottle service in clubs to maintain the appearance of being rich rappers.
The prosecution charged that Diggs was a murderous drug kingpin who used intimidation and murder to impose his will, but Diggs told jurors that the lyrics and imagery in his music and videos were pure fiction made up for entertainment purposes and that he had long left a life of crime behind.
“I spent a lot of time in isolation,” Herron testified. “I went through a whole retrospective process. I changed radically.”
When presented with some particularly inflammatory YouTube videos, lyrics and even tweets posted by himself that referenced violent acts, Herron stated that it was all merely the “hyperbole” of a rapper.
Unfortunately for Diggs, his testimony was not enough to convince the jurors of his innocence and he was convicted of killing Frederick Brooks, Richard Russo and Victor Zapata. He was also convicted of running a major narcotics organization.
“He styled himself a rap artist, but the jury’s verdict makes clear who Herron really is: a drug dealer and murderer who sought power through fear and intimidation,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch.
Herron is set to be sentenced on Oct. 1. He faces a mandatory life sentence in prison.