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Prosecutors pare down allegations against Baltimore rapper YGG Tay, but he remains jailed until trial

Rapper YGG Tay, shown here at Architects Recording Studio on Harford Road, will remain jailed until trial on federal drug and weapons charges, a judge ruled.
Rapper YGG Tay, shown here at Architects Recording Studio on Harford Road, will remain jailed until trial on federal drug and weapons charges, a judge ruled.(Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)

Federal and local law enforcement have made eye-popping allegations against Baltimore rapper YGG Tay and his group in recent years. But when prosecutors appeared in court recently asking a federal judge to order him detained while awaiting trial on gun and drugs charges, authorities offered a pared back version.

The rapper, whose name is Davante Harrison, was arrested last fall with drugs and a loaded gun with an extended magazine. As a “presumption case” - meaning the charges bring the presumption that the defendant should be held - prosecutors didn’t have to provide many details in arguing that he be held.

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And they didn’t - at least not on the allegations of violence they have previously leveled at Harrison and his associates.

Instead, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Goo late last month outlined other allegations gathered in an FBI investigation she said dated to 2015, including saying Harrison’s bank records showed “significant” financial transactions and that he had spent big at local casinos.

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She alleged in a March 31 hearing that he oversaw a drug trafficking organization with ties into Delaware, and said that he had made trips to California and sought to establish an apartment there that could not be traced back to him.

“This is not just some street-level hitter,” Goo said.

Before he was ever in custody, however, prosecutors and an FBI agent said in open court that Harrison was aligned with a murderous gang called Trained to Go, and had put a bounty on the head of a federal witness who was later killed. And city police have previously accused his group, which stands for Young Go Getters, of being connected to the fatal shooting of popular rapper Lor Scoota.

Harrison told The Sun on both occasions that the allegations were untrue.

“That is completely false,” he said in an interview in September 2018. “I’ve never even seen this guy before. I’ve never had a conversation about this guy. I don’t know how I’m connected to this guy. They have no evidence, so they shouldn’t be saying that to no judge.”

Indeed, those allegations have not found their way into his current charges or the detention hearing. The Sun requested and obtained audio of the hearing, which was held over conference call due to coronavirus restrictions.

The prosecutor said Harrison was shot in July 2018, and that as part of the investigation his cell phone was collected as evidence. The FBI obtained a search warrant for the phone in April 2019, and obtained “additional information about Mr. Harrison and his associates,” Goo said.

“Notably, there were photographs of other firearms, a number of text messages in which Mr. Harrison referenced carrying firearms. Mr. Harrison also in the text messages, importantly, makes further mention of his drug trafficking operations,” Goo added without offering specifics.

Goo cited an alleged threat to a witness by Harrison last year, though she said it was made through a third party. She said the witness and their family were relocated by the FBI.

Harrison’s attorney, Thomas Rafter, did not challenge the current allegations except to say that his client’s rapping career takes him to California where he is signed to the EMPIRE label. He also noted that a South Baltimore apartment where federal agents found drugs belongs to a friend of Harrison.

Harrison is being held in the DC jail, where in a rare show of unity both the corrections officer union and the ACLU, speaking out on behalf of detainees, said there were dangerous conditions at the facility related to coronavirus.

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