James Rosemond, the hip-hop manager who went by “Jimmy Henchman,” is probably best known for his alleged involvement in the 1994 shooting that left Tupac Shakur robbed and bleeding in New York’s Quad Studios. In his song “Against All Odds,” Shakur blamed Rosemond. In a controversial 2008 L.A. Times article, investigative reporter Chuck Philips wrote that Rosemond orchestrated the attack. And in June 2011, Rosemond’s former associate Dexter Isaac told AllHiphop.com that “James Rosemond hired me to rob 2Pac at the Quad Studio.”
The shooting sparked the West Coast-East Coast feud that burned on until after Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G were each shot dead.
Yet in the scope of Rosemond’s legal troubles, the Shakur shooting would turn out to be small potatoes–the sort of wrongdoing a defendant admits to while negotiating a settlement for another crime. The big potatoes: Rosemond, federal prosecutors charged, ran a multimillion-dollar drug trafficking operation. In June 2012, after a three-week trial, a jury found him guilty.
On Friday, a federal judge in Brooklyn sentenced Rosemond to life in prison.
It’s an ignominious fate for a man who, at one time, was one of the biggest players in hip-hop. The Brooklyn-native founded Czar Entertainment, a management company that has represented Salt-N-Pepper, The Game, Akon, Sean Kingston, Brandy, Gucci Mane, and Michael K. Williams, who played “Omar” on “The Wire.”
The way the Feds told it, Rosemond applied that business savvy toward building a drug empire.
Between 2007 and 2011, prosecutors claimed, Rosemond’s enterprise distributed 50 to 100 kilos of cocaine every month and made $11 million a year. Sometimes the crew transported money and drugs in music equipment cases through an industry shipping company. Other times, the traffickers doused the cocaine bags in mustard — to throw off the drug sniffing dogs — and shipped them in regular boxes via UPS or FedEx. The drugs traveled from Los Angeles to New York City, the money back the other way.
Authorities seized nearly $3 million in drug proceeds over the course of the investigation, including $785,000 “stored in a music equipment case at a rehearsal studio in Manhattan,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.
Investigators caught Rosemond in the act when he sold a kilo to a cooperating witness in May 2011. They arrested him the following month. Eighteen other members of the criminal organization have been convicted.
Rosemond’s conviction included charges of narcotics conspiracy, money laundering, and firearms possession. He forfeited about $10 million in cash and $4 million worth of property.
His time in court is not over, though. He is set to go on trial in November on charges that he hired a hitman to kill Lowell “Lodi Mack” Fletcher, an associate of 50 Cent who allegedly slapped Rosemond’s son. Fletcher was shot dead in the Bronx in September 2009.
Send story tips to the author, Albert Samaha