A federal judge reversed course Friday and said local rapper NBA YoungBoy does not have to remain jailed while awaiting trial in Baton Rouge on weapons charges but will be under 24-hour house arrest in Utah.

Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, of Baton Rouge, said the chart-topping rap artist, whose real name is Kentrell Gaulden, must post a $1.5 million property bond or put $500,000 cash into a trust account of his attorneys before he can be released to home confinement.

One of Gaulden's attorneys, Andre Belanger, said Gaulden also must make an appearance next week before a judge in Los Angeles on a charge of felon in possession of a firearm and be released on bond there before he can begin his house arrest in Utah on his Louisiana weapons charges.

Belanger said he expects prosecutors to fight for Gaulden's detention in California, but added he's "cautiously optimistic" that something similar to what happened in Baton Rouge federal court Friday will occur in Los Angeles.

"We are grateful for Mr. Gaulden's release and know he will abide by the bail conditions imposed by the court," Belanger said.

Gaulden was relieved by the judge's ruling, the lawyer added.

"That's been on his mind non-stop," Belanger said.

Federal prosecutors asked Dick to stay the ruling she made Friday, but Belanger said the judge denied that request.

Gaulden has been in federal custody since March 22 when agents arrested him in California and returned him to Louisiana. A federal grand jury in Baton Rouge had indicted him March 10 on charges that he possessed a firearm as a felon and that he possessed a firearm not registered to him in a federal database.

A gun was found in his possession when he was arrested in California on the Louisiana charges.

Dick had ruled April 1 that Gaulden should remain jailed until a trial on the Baton Rouge weapons charges, saying he was "inclined toward reckless, illegal, dangerous behavior" and adding that there was no combination of bond conditions that would ensure the community's safety.

Belanger said Dick stated Friday that Gaulden would not pose a danger under 24-hour home confinement and the conditions she set.

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Earlier this week, Gaulden's lawyers urged the judge to reconsider her previous order, arguing that he would not pose a danger to himself or others if granted bond under certain strict conditions, such as house arrest.

The lawyers laid out an elaborate plan Monday that included building a recording studio at the 21-year-old's Utah home and hiring a security firm staffed by former soldiers to patrol the grounds.

Belanger said Dick did not require the security firm proposal but did impose a curfew on visitors to Gaulden's Utah home, saying no more than three visitors can be at the residence at any one time. Any visitors must be pre-approved by Dick, he said.

Gaulden recently bought a home in northern Utah to be near the family of a childhood tutor who took him under her wing, according to court testimony earlier this week. If Gaulden were to move permanently to the Utah residence near his support network, his lawyers argued, he would be kept in line by an adoptive family eager to keep him out of jail.

Prosecutors argued it was unlikely any of the conditions pitched by the defense would make a difference, given Gaulden's pattern of behavior. They noted that, even in the St. Martin Parish jail where he has been held, which has extensive security, Gaulden had been involved in a fight.

Gaulden and 15 other people were arrested in September 2020 during a video shoot at a vacant lot in Baton Rouge on various gun and drug possession charges. Gaulden's federal weapons charges in Baton Rouge stem from that arrest.

Gaulden pleaded guilty in 2017 to aggravated assault with a firearm in connection with a nonfatal drive-by shooting on Kentucky Street in Baton Rouge. The November 2016 shooting occurred two days after Gaulden turned 17.

In 2018, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. He eventually pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery.

On Mother’s Day 2019, Gaulden was involved in a shooting in Miami that left a bystander dead. Gunmen opened fire on the rapper and his entourage outside the Trump International Hotel; his girlfriend was wounded. Members of his crew, who were legally armed, returned fire, fatally striking a bystander. Miami-Dade police ruled Gaulden’s associates acted in self-defense.

NBA in NBA YoungBoy stands for Never Broke Again.

Gaulden's latest album landed at No. 1 on the Billboard charts earlier this month when it was streamed about 186 million times and sold about 10,000 copies.


Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.