Rapper Gunna jailed in Fulton on racketeering charge; attorneys ask for bond

Co-defendant Young Thug faces additional charges after search of home

Atlanta rapper Gunna, who was named Monday along with fellow rapper Young Thug in a sweeping gang indictment, surrendered to authorities in Fulton County.

The 28-year-old artist, whose legal name is Sergio Giavonni Kitchens, was booked into the county jail early Wednesday. He is charged with a single count of conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in the 56-count indictment, which targets alleged members of the Young Slime Life gang and includes charges ranging from drug and gun possession to murder.

“As the district attorney of Fulton County, my No. 1 focus is targeting gangs,” Fani Willis told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. “And there’s a reason for that. They are committing, conservatively, 75 to 80% of all of the violent crime that we are seeing within our community.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis talks at a news conference in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Kitchens’ attorneys maintained their client’s innocence and cited his philanthropic work, which includes opening a free clothing and grocery store for underprivileged students at his former middle school in Fulton County. They also filed a motion requesting bond.

“The indictment falsely portrays his music as part of criminal conspiracy,” said the statement, signed by Atlanta attorneys Don Samuel, John Garland and Kristen Novay. “Mr. Kitchens, an entertainer and philanthropist, created the first-ever local free in-school grocery and clothing store feeding over 400 children weekly, and nationally sponsored giveaways for victims of disasters and food shortages.”

In the motion for bond, the rapper’s attorneys pushed back against the DA’s indictment, calling the allegations against him “so thin as to be transparent.”

“There is no allegation that he committed any act of violence,” the filing said. “There is no allegation that he ever sold any drugs. There is no allegation that he ever committed any act relating to obstruction of justice or interfering with the administration of justice.”

Kitchens was last arrested in metro Atlanta in 2017 during a Brookhaven traffic stop. He and Young Thug, whose legal name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, were taken into custody alongside a third man on charges of drug possession.

Williams was eventually indicted in DeKalb County on multiple felony drug charges, while Kitchens’ charges were considered misdemeanors. Kitchens pleaded guilty to a window tint violation in 2019, and prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of marijuana possession. He was sentenced to six months of probation.

Williams’ DeKalb charges are still pending, according to court records.

In the motion for bond, Kitchens’ lawyers argued he has “no significant criminal history,” and that his record mainly consists of minor traffic offenses.

Prosecutors said Young Slime Life is a criminal street gang co-founded by Williams in the Cleveland Avenue area of Atlanta with ties to the national Bloods gang. YSL, or Young Stoner Life, is also the name of Young Thug’s record label. As Williams rose to stardom, so did the profile of YSL thanks to frequent mentions in his music, prosecutors said.

In Monday’s indictment, prosecutors laid out several instances they said furthered the YSL conspiracy. Kitchens’ involvement appears to be tied to the 2017 Brookhaven traffic stop. Also noted in the indictment is a 2018 traffic stop during which Williams, Kitchens and other associates of YSL in another car were pulled over for speeding.

One of the vehicles contained several weapons with high-capacity magazines, according to the indictment.

Like Williams, Kitchens is also accused of furthering the interests of YSL through his rap music, social media posts and music videos. Willis said Tuesday the First Amendment is “one of our most precious rights,” but she said free speech doesn’t protect someone from having their own words become evidence in a criminal proceeding.

Gunna was one of the first artists signed to the YSL Records label, which has been a growing presence in Atlanta. He was featured on Lil Baby’s 2018 hit “Drip Too Hard,” which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100. He has also collaborated with artists such as Travis Scott, Machine Gun Kelly and fellow Atlanta rapper Future, as well as with Young Thug.

Earlier this year, Gunna’s “DS4Ever,” his third album, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.

Kitchens appeared before a Magistrate Court judge Wednesday morning, but a Superior Court judge was expected to consider bail at a later date.

As for his part, Williams is facing an additional seven charges stemming from his arrest Monday and the subsequent search of his Buckhead home. In addition to his indicted charges of participating in criminal street gang activity and conspiring to violate the RICO Act, the 30-year-old now faces drug and weapons possession charges, as well as three new gang-related charges.

Warrants allege police found nearly 1,300 grams of marijuana, 31 bottles of Promethazine syrup and six guns, including a 9mm Glock equipped with an illegal “converter switch” that transforms the semi-automatic pistol into a “machine gun.”

Police also said they discovered 20 bottles of “YSL Slime Drink” containing THC.

Both Williams, who was moved to the Cobb County jail after his arrest, and Kitchens are being held without bond.