Tearful Chief Keef gets 60 days in juvenile jail for violating probation
Keith Cozart, AKA Chief Keef, leaves Cook County Juvenile Court, 1100 S. Hamilton Street following hearing, Wednesday, October 17, 2012. I John H. White~Sun-Times
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:09PM
Chicago rapper Chief Keef was sentenced Thursday to 60 days in juvenile detention after tearfully apologizing for violating his probation on a gun conviction.
“I am a very good-hearted person,” the 17-year-old musician told Judge Carl Anthony Walker. “I am sorry for anything that I have done wrong. ... Give me a chance.”
But Walker said the teenager has repeatedly disregarded the court’s orders — including the rapper’s June 26 visit to an indoor gun range in New York in a promotional video for his music.
Chief Keef, whose real name is Keith Cozart, fired a rifle at the range, violating an order to stay away from firearms, the judge said.
Cozart was serving 18 months’ probation for pointing a gun at Chicago Police officers.
In addition to revoking Cozart’s probation and throwing him in jail, the judge decided to make Cozart a ward of the state, removing him from the custody of an uncle and grandmother. Walker said his ruling was necessary to protect the public — and because of Cozart’s “blatant violations” of the court’s orders.
Cozart, dressed in a navy blue jail sweatsuit and white sneakers, hugged his mother before he was taken into custody.
Outside court, his manager, Rovaun Pierre Manuel, said Cozart isn’t dangerous, but simply a reflection of the violent South Side neighborhood where he grew up.
“Englewood has had this problem for as long as you’ve known,” Manuel said. “Chief Keef is a 17-year-old kid. ... Does the city of Chicago really think he is the problem?”
Cozart hit the big-time in December with the release of his debut studio album “Finally Rich.” Manuel said he planned to release a new Chief Keef single as early as Thursday. Other rappers will cover for Cozart in the coming months on about 15 scheduled tour appearances, he said.
Before Cozart was sentenced, prosecutors pointed to the lyrics of one Chief Keef song, “Love Sosa,” claiming the words represented a snub of the court’s orders for him to stay away from gangs, guns and drugs.
One line, “Hit ’em with that Cobra... Now that boy slumped over,” refers to killing someone with a Cobra handgun, said Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Jullian Brevard.
Cozart “thumbed his nose at the court,” Brevard said.
But Cozart’s attorney, Dennis Berkson, said it’s laughable to equate a song’s lyrics with criminal intentions.
“I’m sure the Beatles said really goofy things in songs,” he said.
Berkson said the gun-range video was “stupid” for his client to make, but he said Cozart deserved another chance — not jail.
“I believe you have scared him straight,” Berkson told the judge.
Cozart told the judge he has two young daughters.
“I’m sorry about all the wrong I have done,” he said, adding that he’s close to obtaining a GED — something the court ordered last year.
But the judge wasn’t swayed, ordering Cozart held in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for March 14.