DEA ze­roed in on rap­per months be­fore fa­tal shoot­ing

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY ROBERT SNELL AND ORALANDAR BRAND-WIL­LIAMS The Detroit News

Detroit — Rap­per Dough­boy Roc was un­der fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion and had more than $55,000 seized by U.S. Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion agents months be­fore be­ing shot to death Mon­day, The Detroit News has learned.

Court records and sources fa­mil­iar with the fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fer in­sight into the fi­nal months of the 29-year-old rap­per, real name Rod­ney Year­gin, who gained lo­cal fame within the mu­sic in­dus­try while striv­ing for main­stream suc­cess.

It’s un­clear whether there’s any con­nec­tion between the homi­cide and the seizure of money or the DEA in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The sta­tus of the fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­clear Thurs­day.

Drug deal­ing and the rap in­dus­try have over­lapped in high­pro­file fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions lo­cally in re­cent years. In March, The News re­ported that DEA agents were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Detroit mu­sic mogul Brian Brown af­ter an

in­for­mant iden­ti­fied the BMB Records owner as one of the largest heroin deal­ers in the Midwest who was us­ing the rap la­bel to laun­der drug money.

Though the full scope of the DEA in­ves­ti­ga­tion was un­clear Thurs­day, sources fa­mil­iar with the probe said fed­eral agents stopped Year­gin on Feb. 28 at Detroit Metropoli­tan Air­port. Agents seized $55,573 in cash be­fore Year­gin could board a flight.

Year­gin was never charged with a fed­eral crime and ini­tially signed a form claim­ing most of the money — $54,800 found in his lug­gage — did not be­long to him, ac­cord­ing to Oakland County Cir­cuit Court records ob­tained by The News.

The money was seized be­cause in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieved the cash ei­ther was go­ing to be used to buy drugs or linked to a drug deal, As­sis­tant Oakland County Pros­e­cu­tor Anne Gab­bert wrote in a court fil­ing.

Gab­bert filed a law­suit to have the money for­feited to Oakland County in April. The case is pend­ing and is be­ing han­dled in Oakland County be­cause the DEA task force de­tec­tive in­volved in the seizure works for Water­ford Town­ship Po­lice.

“It is against Depart­ment of Jus­tice pol­icy to con­firm or deny an ex­ist­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” DEA spokesman Rich Isaac­son told The News.

Year­gin was fly­ing with the cash to buy a car in Ari­zona, said at­tor­ney Ivan Land. He filed a re­quest to re­claim the money in May — three months af­ter the seizure.

Year­gin earned the money through sell­ing rap CDs and con­cert per­for­mances, the lawyer said.

“My client was not a drug dealer,” Land said. “He was a suc- cess­ful artist.”

Year­gin’s des­ti­na­tion in Ari­zona was un­clear, his lawyer said.

Trav­el­ers can fly from Detroit Metropoli­tan Air­port to sev­eral cities in Ari­zona, in­clud­ing Phoenix and Tuc­son. Both are con­sid­ered by fed­eral drug agents as source cities for large ship­ments of nar­cotics to Metro Detroit due to the cities’ close prox­im­ity to the U.S.-Mex­i­can border

Land spoke to the rap­per three days be­fore the shoot­ing to pre­pare for re­claim­ing the money. The at­tor­ney had told pros­e­cu­tors about the source of the cash and a planned ve­hi­cle pur­chase in Ari­zona, he said.

“They said ‘prove it,’ ” Land said. “We were in the mid­dle of work­ing it out.”

Land does not be­lieve the shoot­ing was drug-re­lated and dis­puted that Year­gin was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by fed­eral drug agents.

“I don’t think that if a per­son was in some type of trou­ble that they would be out in the open like that,” Land said.

Two months af­ter the cash seizure, Year­gin faced a sep­a­rate le­gal chal­lenge.

On April 8, he was hit with two co­caine charges in Wayne County, in­clud­ing a 20-year felony, but caught a break.

In­stead of 20 years in prison, pros­e­cu­tors of­fered Year­gin a deal to plead guilty to at­tempted de­liv­ery/man­u­fac­ture of less than 50 grams of co­caine. His sen­tenc­ing guide­lines rec­om­mended a term of seven-to-23 months in state prison and in­cluded the pos­si­bil­ity of pro­ba­tion.

Judge Dana Hath­away, in­stead, sen­tenced Year­gin to two years’ pro­ba­tion, ac­cord­ing to Wayne County Cir­cuit Court records.

“He was al­lowed to plead and a sen­tence of pro­ba­tion would be in line with that type of plea,” said Maria Miller, an as­sis­tant pros­e­cu­tor with the Wayne County Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice.

Year­gin’s crim­i­nal de­fense lawyer, Ka­reem LaMount John­son, was aware of the cash seized by fed­eral agents.

“It was my un­der­stand­ing that all of that money had been law­fully gained,” John­son said Thurs­day. “It was just a mat­ter of a young hip hop artist who likes to carry cash.”

The shoot­ing shocked John­son.

“Oh, man, he was such a good kid,” he said. “The last time I had con­tact with Mr. Year­gin, he was work­ing solely on mu­sic.”

The con­vic­tion was at least Year­gin’s third se­ri­ous crime.

In 2011, he was con­victed of car­ry­ing a weapon with un­law­ful in­tent and felony firearm.

Af­ter be­ing sen­tenced for the drug crime in June, Year­gin was or­dered to wear a tether un­til mid-Septem­ber. He posted a photo of the tether and low-top white Nike Air Force One sneak­ers on In­sta­gram on Sept. 14 with the hash­tag #blessed. Four weeks later, he was dead. Detroit po­lice of­fi­cers found his bul­let-rid­den body in a white Hyundai near Stoe­pel and West­field Mon­day af­ter­noon on the city’s west side.

He ap­peared to have been shot in his right ear and shoul­der, po­lice said.

Soon af­ter the news broke that the rap­per had been killed, the neigh­bor­hood filled with au­thor­i­ties and mourn­ers and trib­utes from fel­low mu­si­cians flooded so­cial me­dia.

Mon­day’s in­ci­dent is the sec­ond fa­tal shoot­ing in three months in­volv­ing well-known Detroit rap­pers. In July, Do­minique Brown and Ramell Camp­bell, known as Domo Brown and 47 Mell, re­spec­tively, were killed in a drive-by shoot­ing while driv­ing east on In­ter­state 94 near Liver­nois. Po­lice said that killing was the re­sult of an on­go­ing feud.

Year­gin

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