Notes and sourcing for Hip-hop's shadowy empire
BLEU'S SIGNIFICANCE: In the 2004 DVD magazine, The Raw Report, Meech describes BMF Entertainment's devotion to rapper Bleu DaVinci: "What we focusing on right now is Bleu DaVinci. I believe that most labels take so much time out and they focus on so many artists that you never get the realness out of the one artist, because you're focusing on 10 or 20 artists. That's why all our independent focus is on what Bleu DaVinci gonna do and how he's gonna make it. If he take off, then we take off. If he don't take off, then we don't want to take off. Simple."
J-BO'S RANK: The Raw Report DVD introduces J-Bo as BMF Entertainment's chief operating officer. At a July 2006 hearing in relation to an October 2005 federal case out of Detroit, assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Leibson described Chad "J-Bo" Brown's position within BMF the following way: "Mr. Brown was one of the higher ranking members of the organization."
AT THE TIME OF THE VIDEO
BLEU'S VIDEO: In addition to Bleu DaVinci's "Still Here," Benny Boom also has directed videos for P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Nelly, Ciara, P$C and Young Dro. In The Raw Report DVD, Meech describes how BMF Entertainment can "just give Bleu $500,000 for his video."
CASH AND COCAINE: According to documents filed in relation to the October 2005 federal case, alleged BMF member Jabari Hayes was pulled over in Missouri on March 16, 2004, outside St. Louis, at which time the DEA seized nearly $600,000, and again on April 11, 2004, 90 miles west of St. Louis, during which Phelps County deputies discovered more than 100 kilos of cocaine. The documents also state that alleged BMF members Christopher "Pig" Triplett and Calvin "Playboy" Sparks were stopped outside St. Louis, on April 5, 2004, and caught with nine kilos of coke.
MEECH AS LEADER: A) Documents filed in relation to the October 2005 federal case allege: "Terry Lee Flenory and Demetrius Edward Flenory began to operate their illegal cocaine business from Atlanta, Ga., and Los Angeles, Calif., as well as Detroit. Between approximately 2001 and 2003, Terry Lee Flenory and Demetrius Edward Flenory began to refer to their activities as being part of an entity they called 'Black Mafia Family' (BMF)." Documents filed in the case also claim that Meech "admitted to being the owner of BMF entertainment and the executive editor of Juice Magazine" and that "[t]hese enterprises are legitimate only in the sense that they are in the legal business of representing entertainers and publishing a magazine. The evidence in the case indicates that the money behind these ostensibly legitimate businesses comes from the illegitimate sale of cocaine." C) At a January hearing in relation to the case, DEA Agent Bob Bell testified: "The information that we developed was that Black Mafia Family is the drug organization, and from that Black Mafia Entertainment was actually incorporated I believe in March of 2004 with the idea to — I believe, if I'm using the right terminology, to produce music, rap type music, but that in many ways [the business was] all one and the same with the organization."
SCARFACE ALLUSIONS: In addition to the billboards stating, "The World is BMF's," both albums released by BMF Entertainment's sole artist, Bleu DaVinci, were titled The World is BMF's, volumes 1 and 2. And a wiretap investigation involving two alleged BMF members indicated that BMF had been involved in the operation of a now-defunct Buckhead club called Babylon — which is also the name of the club at the center of the film.
BMF'S BILLBOARDS: Documents filed in relation to an October 2004 case in DeKalb County Superior Court show photographs of the billboards and include copies of receipts sent from billboard company Lamar to BMF Entertainment's magazine, The Juice, for work done on billboards located on Peacthree Road and on I-75. The billboards also are shown in DVD magazine The Raw Report.
MEECH'S BIRTHDAY: At the January 2006 hearing in relation to the October 2005 case, DEA Agent Bell testified, "A birthday party ... was thrown on behalf of Demetrius Flenory in which records indicate more than $100,000 was spent to bring in exotic African-type animals and — with models attending." He said the party was "in the Atlanta area" and that BMF had rented out "an entire club." Photos of the party, which was held in the summer of 2004 at Compound, can be viewed here.
MAKING IT RAIN: The act of throwing stacks of dollar bills into the air at nightclubs and strip clubs are shown in the DVD magazine Smack, which was released in 2005 and filmed in 2004. On another DVD released along with Bleu DaVinci's October 2006 compilation record, The World is BMF's, Vol. 2, Bleu says, "We the originators of making it rain."
TERRY IN L.A.: At the January 2006 hearing in relation to the October 2005 case, DEA agent Bell testified, "At one point primarily Demetrius Flenory resided and worked out of the Atlanta area and Terry Flenory out of the Los Angeles, California, area." According to documents filed in the case, "In 2000, Mr. Flenory moved to Los Angeles with his girlfriend and her children."
SOUTHWEST T'S PHONE CALLS: A) The calls describing the Bentley, the Lakers tickets and the phone call about the Missouri drug busts were described in documents filed in the October 2005 federal case. DEA agent Bell testified about the intercepted phone calls during the January 2006 hearing in relation to the case. Bell described the conversation between Calvin "Playboy" Sparks' two brothers and Southwest T as follows: "[The brothers] were concerned about their brother having to do time and take the fall for that seizure and that arrest in St. Louis area. They were initially concerned when they talked with Terry Flenory that Christopher ["Pig"] Triplett would turn state's evidence, would begin to cooperate and would hurt their brother and cause him to be incarcerated. ... Terry Flenory told them ... essentially that they didn't need to worry, that Chris Triplett, Pig, as he's called, would live up to his responsibilities, that the attorney they had hired would let them know if he was going to cooperate anyway, and basically not to worry about it." C) Regarding the call between Southwest T and his sister, Bell told the court: "This telephone conversation was probably more then 30 minutes in length and at one point Terry Flenory said in referring to Demetrius that, 'We've always been 50-50 partners.' Both Terry Flenory and [his sister] were discussing that Demetrius was out of hand and Terry was essentially complaining about how flamboyant his brother Demetrius was being and that it was a concern that would bring law enforcement problems down on all of them." Bell also testified that Southwest T had talked on the phone about Meech's lifestyle being too wild: "Demetrius Flenory was living a flamboyant lifestyle that was likely or possible to land him in jail or trouble with law enforcement or also affect Terry Flenory adversely the same way, and ... he did not want to end up that way. He didn't want to end up being locked up for years and at one point said that he could do five years but he something to the effect he 'couldn't do no 20.'" And later in the hearing, Bell said that Southwest T and his sister "discussed that Demetrius was basically using drugs and/or alcohol excessively and was out of hand hanging out with a crowd of people that were not good for him and the family, kind of just causing a lot of stress between brothers."
MEECH'S SCARCITY: Documents filed by Meech's attorney in relation to the October 2005 federal case state: "Of the more than 1,000 [of Southwest T's] telephone calls listened to through the use of wiretaps, not a single call involved the Defendant talking about drugs or engaging in drug deals."
FOLLOWING OMARI: Former Fulton County prosecutor Rand Csehy, who headed the BMF investigation for that office, told CL that agents of an inter-agency task force spent "hundreds of hours" poring over the information gathered from wiretaps on the phones of Omari McCree and Jeffery Leahr. At a Feb. 13, 2006, hearing in relation to a June 2005 case in Fulton County, Csehy told the court: "During the wiretaps, it was learned that Mr. McCree and Mr. Leahr were members, distributors of cocaine, for the organization known as the Black Mafia Family or BMF headed by Demetirus Flinnery [sic] and receiving orders ... from him with regard to distribution of cocaine." C) In the wiretapped conversations, Omari and those who called him spoke of several BMF members with whom investigators were familiar, including BMF Entertainment chief operating officer Chad "J-Bo" Brown, the rapper Bleu DaVinci and Bleu's little brother, Marque "Baby Bleu" Dixson.
OMARI'S STATEMENT: On June 8, 2005, shortly after his arrest on cocaine-trafficking charges, Omari McCree gave the following statement to an investigator with the inter-agency task force HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area):
"Are you familiar with BMF?" the investigator asked.
"I learned about BMF back in 1999," Omari said. "They were not called BMF at that time. ..."
"In 1999, whom did you know as members of BMF?"
"I knew of only Meech and Bleu DaVinci."
"When did you become a part of BMF?"
"In 2002, after meeting Meech's son at a birthday party in Florida."
"Have you ever heard of the elevator?"
"Where is the elevator located?"
"Have you ever heard of the gate?"
"Where is the gate located?"
"Off of Roswell Road, near the Chevron."
"Have you ever purchased or obtained drugs from the gate?"
"How did you obtain the drugs?"
"I would call J-Bo, and then I would go and pick it up."
"Where would you pick it up?"
"At the gate."
"Would anyone be there when you arrived?"
"Yes, J-Bo. ..."
"Who is J-Bo?"
"He works for dude."
"Who is dude?"
"Dude is Meech."
"Who is responsible for the drugs getting to the gate?"
"How much have you seen while at the gate?"
"About 50 keys."
"Would you be willing to show me where the gate is located?"
"Man, I ain't talking no more. These people know my family. Will I walk?"
THE HOME INVASION: Gucci's former attorney, Dennis Scheib, described the alleged attack to CL. "One of them hit [Gucci] in the head," Scheib said. "It was something wrapped up. He thought it was brass knuckles. They came in with duct tape, too. ... They pulled out a gun, and they had tape. And they pointed a weapon either at him or his friend, and he just wasn't going to wait until they started shooting." When asked about the alleged intruders' weapons, Gucci's current attorney, Ash Joshi, replied, "Certainly brass knuckles. Certainly guns ... and some drawn."
CAPTURING GATLING: The details of Deron Gatling's arrest are described in a U.S. Marshal's Service "Catch of the Week" report.
JUSTIN'S: The Atlanta Police incident report on the stabbings, which occurred in the early-morning hours of May 23, 2005, states the following: A) "[V]ictims were transported to Piedmont Hospital and Atlanta Medical hospital. I responded to Piedmont Hospital where Shane [sic] Brown was transported and was advised that he suffered a stab wound to the neck. [Another officer] responded to Atlanta Medical where Kelsey Brown was transported and was told that Mr. K. Brown was also stabbed in the neck and was in stable condition." "The victims were the family members of artist Bobby Brown. ... Mr. Brown was at the restaurant/bar with family members celebrating a birthday, when the alleged suspect, 'Baby Blue,' [sic.] and the victim Shane [sic.] Brown became engaged in a verbal altercation. Family members stated that the suspect 'Baby Blue' [sic.] made statements that they kill people. Family members stated that when they heard those words, they made an attempt to pull Shane from the argument, this is when the next thing they know, Shane was on the floor bleeding, from a large cut wound to his neck. ... Kelsey Brown, who was transported to the Atlanta Medical Center, by his mother, advised ... that he went to the aid of his cousin Shane [sic], and he was struck by the very big guy, who was with the suspect 'Baby Blue.' [sic.] Kelsey told [police] that the big guy jumped over a table, and struck him. He advised that he did not know he was cut until he saw the blood. ... The victim Shane [sic] was rushed to surgery. ... [One] witness advised that Baby Blue [sic.] is someone that [they] know and that they have seen this suspect with his friends before." C) "[T]he victims Kelsey and Shane [sic] Brown were severely stabbed in the face and neck area with a possible Ice Pick. ... The suspects were scene [sic] by a witness fleeing the scene in [Cleveland Hall's] vehicle. [Hall's] vehicle was identified through a car tag that was gathered by a witness." D) "See Supplement ... on details of case involving Bobby Brown's Family and Members Of BMF."
THE INJURIES: To view Marque "Baby Bleu" Dixson's indictment, which describes the victims' injuries, click here: part 1 [pdf] and part 2 [pdf]. To see the description of the injuries provided in the arrest warrant for Baby Bleu, click here [pdf].
THE SUV: An affidavit filed by an investigator in relation to Cleveland Hall's alleged role in the Justin's incident states: "The witnesses indicated that the suspects fled the scene in an SUV and gave four of six characters of the tag. The witnesses also gave a physical description of the driver of the SUV. Investigation identified the accused as the driver of the SUV based on a tag description given by the witnesses. Victim Shane [sic] Brown identified the accused as being involved in the attack based on viewing the drivers [sic] license picture of the accused. Arrest warrants have been obtained for the arrest of the accused. The accused was located and placed in custody on May 24, 2005."
CLEVELAND HALL'S STATEMENT: The day after the shooting, Hall gave the following statement to Atlanta Police: "On May 23, 2005 at about 1:00 a.m. in the morning, I was at Justin's. An altercation between Bobby Browns [sic] nephew and some other individual broke out. I went to try and break it up. After I got there, I saw somebody bleeding. I stepped back towards the entrance. I left out of the building and I went towards my vehicle. I waited for Fabulous [sic] and his manager and we left." For more of the statement, click here: part1 and part 2 [pdf].
OTHER WITNESS STATEMENTS: A) According to one witness's hand-written account of the stabbings, which was filed in relation to the Fulton County case, "I was standing at the bar at Justin's restaurant with my brother Bobby Brown. My nephew Shayne Brown and Kelsey Brown were behind us with other family members and friends. I heard my niece ... yell and when I turned around I saw Shayne covered in blood. Bobby grabbed Shayne and we all ran out the door to the car and rushed Shayne to Piedmont Hospital." To view another witness's statement, click here: part 1 [pdf]. (Note: the name of the two witnesses were withheld because they were not alleged to have any involvement in the crime.)
JEEZY'S RELEASE PARTY: A) A May 2006 Vibe article gives a comprehensive account of the July 2005 album release party: "Just after 9 p.m., ... a pair of chartered tour buses pulled up to Vision Nightclub & Lounge on Atlanta's Peachtree Street for a party celebrating the release of Young Jeezy's major label solo debut, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Yet when the bus doors opened, it was not Jeezy who emerged but members of the storied ATL street crew Black Mafia Family. ... Once inside, BMF awed partiers by tossing fistfuls of cash as they awaited Jeezy. ... Jeezy took the stage surrounded by BMF members and employees of his Corporate Thugz Entertainment label." B) MTV.com also reported on the party: "It looks almost like a football tailgaters' party outside club Vision. About 3,000 people are lined up outside, ... and just about none of them are getting in. ... Vision already has 5,000 people inside and is about to burst at the seams. ... So how does an MC who the mainstream only really got to know last week, when his debut solo album, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, opened at no. 2 on the Billboard albums chart, lock down a city as huge as ATL? Simple: he has one of the largest street followings in the business." C) A comment posted on a SOHH.com blog entry about club Vision stated, "I remember the one time I went when they had the Young Jeezy album release party and them BMF niggas came like 30 deep, and they was all ridin solo up in black lambos and black aston martins." D) And according to the website musicsnippet.com, "Only Jeezy can bring them out like that on a Tuesday night. Thousands of people all dressed in black [were] trying to get in his packed album release party at the newly remodeled Club Vision."
BABY BLEU'S ARREST: At Marque "Baby Bleu" Dixson's Aug. 11, 2005, bond hearing, his attorney, Brian Steel, said of his Aug. 3 arrest: "He was here in Atlanta at the Jazz Festival at Centennial Park. Law enforcement officers came up to him, asked him to stand up, [state] his name. He properly gave his identification. [They told him] turn around, you are under arrest for aggravated battery, aggravated assault." Steel also said at the hearing, "The charges are meritless and baseless. And we have alibi witnesses who were with my client on that date. The description of the person who allegedly stabbed this man is totally different from what my client was wearing. I'm just trying to get a videotape that is supposedly at Justin's, although the videotape is now, from my understanding, gone. And hopefully the authorities have it." A document filed Aug. 4 in relation to Baby Bleu's case cites the "outstanding warrant issued by the FBI" for Baby Bleu.
OMARI'S PLEA: According to a law enforcement source who spoke to CL on the condition of anonymity, the case against Omari and his two co-defendants was the only BMF-related one to reach a resolution in court. "He was the first guy that the state had even prosecuted in relation to the Black Mafia Family," the source said. According to court documents filed in relation to the June 2005 case, Omari pleaded guilty on Aug. 9, 2005. His co-defendant, Jeffery Leahr, pleaded guilty Feb. 1, 2006, to cocaine trafficking and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Jeffery's girlfriend, Courtney Williams, pleaded guilty Feb. 21, 2006, to conspiring to traffic cocaine and was sentenced to five years.
MEECH'S ARREST: A) According to documents filed in relation to the October 2005 federal case: "Three firearms were seized during the defendant's arrest on this indictment at his home located at 5173 Brandywine Lane, Frisco, Texas." "Upon defendant's arrest on October 20, 2005, police seized, among other things, a 2004 Bentley Continental GT, a 2005 Dodge Magnum, a Ford F150 Pickup Truck, and jewelry valued at approximately $695,000. Defendant was arrested in his Frisco, Texas home, which although rented by the defendant, is valued at $1.2 million dollars." "In the course of his arrest ... law enforcement seized marijuana, ecstasy, and three weapons from defendant's house. One of the weapons was a high velocity weapon capable of overcoming bulletproof vests and known as a 'cop killer.'" B) At the January 2006 hearing in relation to the federal case, Meech's attorney, Findling, pointed out, "The gun that was talked about in Texas, there's no indication that was ever used. It was in a vault." C) At the same hearing, DEA Agent Bell said Meech was reticent following the arrest: "I know for several hours he sat silently."
TERRY'S ARREST: The details of Southwest T's Oct. 27, 2005, arrest are described in a U.S. Marshal's Service "Catch of the Week" report.
THE OTHER DEFENDANTS: Among the other defendants charged in the federal indictment brought against Meech and Southwest T: BMF Entertainment Chief Operating Officer Chad "J-Bo" Brown; the three alleged BMF couriers stopped in Missouri, Jabari Hayes, Calvin "Playboy" Sparks and Christopher "Pig" Triplett; and the well-known, New York-based jeweler to the stars, Jacob "The Jeweler" Arabo. Arabo (who is listed in the indictment by his birth name, Jacob Arabov) is alleged to have helped BMF members launder money through jewelry purchased by alleged BMF members from Arabo's swanky Upper East Side shop, Jacob & Co. According to the indictment, "Jacob Arabov facilitated the purchase of jewelry utilizing the drug proceeds of Terry Lee Flenory, Demetrius Edward Flenory and others in order to conceal the true source, nature and ownership of the funds involved in these transactions."
THE CHARGES: Of the 41 defendants named in the federal indictment, only Meech and Southwest T face the Continued Criminal Enterprise charge, which can carry a sentence of life in prison. Southwest T faces a total of 11 counts: the CCE charge, six counts of cocaine conspiracy or possession, three counts of using a cell phone in violation of the federal Controlled Substance Act and one count of money laundering. Meech faces six counts: CCE, four counts of cocaine conspiracy or possession and one count of money laundering.
THE WITNESSES: At the January 2006 hearing in relation to the October 2005 federal case, DEA Agent Bell testified, "There are at least 25, probably more witnesses that we have in relation to this case, and I think I said 10 or more witnesses specific to Demetrius Flenory." According to documents Meech's attorney, Findling, filed Feb. 13, 2006, in relation to the case, "while the Government promised at the conclusion of the detention hearing to provide discovery concerning the alleged witnesses, they have to this date failed to do so."
BLEU'S RIDE: The video during which Bleu described the goings-on with BMF Entertainment was released in October 2006 as a DVD accompanying his compilation album, The World Is BMF's, Vol. 2.
BABY BLEU'S DEATH: The March 9, 2006, incident in the Buckhead parking lot is described in an Atlanta Police report: "Witnesses stated that [the] incident started at the club Living Room bar, when ... [Baby Bleu's] ex-girlfriend [and his] current girlfriend ... were involved in an altercation. [The ex] stated that [Baby Bleu] asked her to meet him at the 'Rooms-To-Go' parking lot. ... Once in the parking lot, [Baby Bleu] and [the ex] were talking prior to the physical altercation that ensued between herself and victim. ... [Baby Bleu] continued to escalate the situation between himself and [the ex]." According to the report, several friends of Baby Bleu's ex-girlfriend arrived at the scene, including a man named Sheldon Mayers. "[Baby Bleu] approached Mr. Mayers in an aggressive manor. ... All three witnesses stated that when [Baby Bleu] pulled on the passenger side door of Mayers [sic] vehicle, they heard several gunshots, and [saw Baby Bleu] falling to the ground. Mr. Mayers fled the location. Based on the witnesses [sic] statement, a Fulton County warrant for murder was signed by a Fulton County magistrate judge, which was issued for suspect Sheldon B. Mayers."
FOCUSING ON BLEU: In the DVD magazine Smack, Meech describes BMF Entertainment's devotion to Bleu DaVinci: "It's all around Bleu. We want Bleu in the best of everything, show him the best everything, show him that a person can come from nothing to something and step in this game with something and keep going. ... That's basically what we're focusing on, getting Bleu DaVinci started, which is gonna bring BMF into the industry to be a major label like Universal, or Interscope or Dreamworks or Def Jam. ... If you put the whole million dollars or $500,000 behind Bleu DaVinci, now you got a big project and it looks good and everything's rolling."
THE INSPIRATION: Though critics have been mixed on Jeezy's sophomore release (both Rolling Stone and the AJC gave Jeezy's first album higher marks), the album's sales were impressive. Eight days after the The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 dropped, it debuted Dec. 20 at no. 1 on Billboard's pop chart.
MEECH'S LETTER: The letter Meech wrote from jail can be viewed at Meech's MySpace page.