In his song, “Judge Me,” Dayton music artist Clarence “Chaos” Winn Jr. raps about dealing drugs and mentions fentanyl.
Federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Walter Rice for life to imitate art and give Winn, aka CCSERVA, a lengthy prison sentence for trafficking fentanyl.
Winn, 36, pleaded guilty in June to one of six gun- or drug-related counts. Winn had a sentencing hearing Friday in Dayton’s U.S. District Court and faces a minimum of five years in prison.
The non-binding advisory range for Winn’s sentence is from 97 to 121 months. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 10.
Referencing Winn’s autobiography “Don’t Stop! Keep Goin’” and his rap lyrics, prosecutors are advocating for a lengthy sentence for the “Diamond Cut” group member, a man whose attorney said could be a Dayton role model.
“Although now depicting himself as a positive force in this community, he has promoted a far different image of himself outside of this court,” assistant U.S. attorney Brent Tabacchi wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “In his autobiography … Mr. Winn casually details gunplay and making thousands of dollars from drug sales. His songs and their accompanying music videos similarly glorify drug trafficking.
“While Mr. Winn may simply dismiss these activities as mere artistic license with his life, they nevertheless reflect an individual who not only has promoted, but also attempted to profit from, a culture of violence and drug trafficking.”
Defense attorney Jon Paul Rion said after Friday’s hearing that anything a person does in life is fair for the court to consider.
“What is of some concern is there may be a cultural divide that requires a level of understanding to gap,” Rion said. “In the culture of rap music, much is said that is completely not related to reality. And many people that listen to the music know that and would not hear it any different.”
Prosecutors alleged that during early 2017, Winn and his associates ran an interstate drug operation involving bulk amounts of fentanyl and its analogues that were sold from Dayton to Charleston, W.Va.
Prosecutors said if the roughly 200 grams of opioids had reached the street, the thousands of doses in Winn’s van alone could have led to thousand of overdoses.
The sentencing memo references stories from Winn’s book — touted as a “true life tale of his journey to become a superstar” — about drug dealing, selling “bricks,” fleecing a “Mexican” out of money and spending $30,000 during a weekend in New York City.
“Despite earning money through his music and companies, he dealt drugs to supplement an already apparently lucrative income,” Tabacchi wrote. “In short, coupling his self-described history with his current offense, Mr. Winn poses a danger to the community and a risk of recidivism.”
Rion wrote in a sentencing memorandum that his client grew up poor, lost his father and grandfather in an automobile accident, had no real male role models and got into drugs and alcohol at an early age.
Rion wrote that Winn channeled his energy into a musical career that began in 2002 and that Winn toured schools and participated in many community events. The memo was supplemented with about three dozen letters of support from friends, family and acquaintances.
“To be sure, Mr. Winn notes a number of positive activities in which he has participated, including ‘community clean-up, walks to end violence, voter registration projects, volunteer work at homeless shelters, community Easter egg hunts,’” Tabacchi wrote. “He further emphasizes that ‘Diamond Cut’ was a program designed to ‘promote his music’ not a criminal street gang.”
In exchange for Winn pleading guilty to distributing 10 or more grams of acrylfentanyl, prosecutors dropped five counts related to conspiracy and distribution of fentanyl, carfentanil, acrylfentanyl, heroin and one gun charge.
In his song “Judge Me,” Winn says he was raised in the cold streets with no way out” as he points a gun with a laser sight. Winn has previous gun-related felony convictions.
“At war with my problems, at war with my lifestyle,” Winn raps. “At war with myself, got a pistol in my hand right now.”
In a recent six-page, hand-written letter to Rice, Winn said he’s learned his lesson, is speaking the word of God and realizes the dangers of drugs and how overdoses affect families.
“With great remorse I would like to apologize, and take accountability and responsibility for my actions,” Winn wrote. “The crime I committed was selfish, unfeeling and my (judgment) was clouded. I knew better.”
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