Celebs Petition Trump To Commute Sentence For Rapper Loon

By Paul Gaita 04/05/19

Grammy-winning singer Faith Evans, rapper Baby Bash and NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett are among the signees of the petition. 

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Donald Trump

A contingent of entertainment industry figures is rallying around an effort to have President Donald Trump free a former hip-hop artist serving a 14-year prison sentence for heroin trafficking.

Former Bad Boy recording artist, Loon, is the subject of a letter to Trump and petition filed by former music producer turned criminal justice advocate Weldon Angelos who served 13 of a 55-year sentence for firearm possession and charges related to marijuana trafficking, and who hopes that a presidential commutation of sentence could act as a "bridge building" effort between the White House and the entertainment industry.

Among the letter's signees are Grammy-winning singer Faith Evans, rapper Baby Bash, and Alice Johnson, whom Trump released from prison in 2018.

Loon, who was born Chauncey Hawkins, earned a Top 10 album with his eponymous debut release for Bad Boy in 2003, and collaborated with label chief Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Usher and Toni Braxton before parting ways with the music industry in 2008 and converting to Islam.

As Amir Junaid Muhadith, he worked as a motivational speaker but was arrested in 2011 for his involvement with individuals operating a drug-trafficking ring in North Carolina. Having been convicted of two prior felonies, Loon declined to go to trial and accepted the 14-year sentence to avoid, in his words, "mandatory life in prison [with] no hopes of parole."

In the petition, Angelos cited Trump's own statements about prison reform, including comments issued after the commutation of Alice Johnson's sentence, in which the president said, "Those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance."

Johnson had served 21 years of a life sentence for conspiracy to possess cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine before Kim Kardashian West pled her case to the White House.

Angelos also sees the commutation as an opportunity for Trump to forge a connection to the entertainment industry, which has, in many cases, kept him at arms' length. "His case is like a bridge builder," said Angelos. "Now we can bring entertainers to the White House who would disagree with Trump otherwise."

Angelos said that he plans to deliver the letter to the White House within the next three weeks. In addition to Evans, Baby Bash and Johnson, the public figures that have added their names to the letter include producers Stevie J., Kevin McCall and Michael Goldstein, rappers Freeway and Benzino; film producers Marc Levin and Scott Budnick; Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon "Dame" Dash; former Minnesota Timberwolves/Boston Celtics great Kevin Garnett; and CAN-DO founder Amy Povah.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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