The alleged kidnapping of rapper Tekashi69 by a fellow gang member last year was an elaborate PR hoax like the one actor Jussie Smollett allegedly staged, the lawyer for the alleged kidnapper told the court Monday. Anthony “Harv” Ellison is charged with kidnapping and robbing Tekashi69 at gunpoint in July 2018—though lawyer Deveraux Cannick says it was all done for the rapper’s publicity, the New York Daily News reported. “It’s a hoax!... It’s a ‘Jussie Smollett,’ if you will,” Cannick told the jury on Monday. He said the rapper posted on Instagram, “Someone please snatch my chain so my project could sell more” before the alleged crime occurred. He also noted the alleged fake kidnapping happened on the same day Tekashi69’s song with rapper Nicki Minaj dropped.
Tekashi69, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, is expected to take the stand on Tuesday—reportedly in the hopes of getting a lighter sentence for his alleged financing of the gang’s racketeering operation. Smollett, formerly on the show Empire, made headlines earlier this year after he allegedly staged a fake hate crime against himself. He was charged with filing a false police report, though it was later dropped.