A prosecutor revealed Monday that rapper NBA YoungBoy, the subject of a state probe into what happened during the September creation of a music video in Baton Rouge, which led to his arrest and the arrest of 15 others on drug and weapons charges, is also being looked at by federal investigators.

Kentrell Gaulden, the Baton Rouge rapper's real name, is a felon and thus prohibited by state and federal laws from possessing a firearm.

An attorney for Gaulden, 21, had recently filed a motion asking a 19th Judicial District Court judge to release him from his bond supervision because more than four months have passed since Gaulden's arrest and no formal charges have been filed by the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office.

"The Office of the District Attorney has returned Mr. Gaulden's seized property and there is no indication that the State intends to file a Bill of Information against Mr. Gaulden," lawyer James Manasseh states in the motion.

But District Attorney Hillar Moore III, contacted by phone Monday, said, "The matter is still being reviewed by our office and the U.S. Attorney's Office." The federal investigation had not previously been disclosed publicly.

U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin said it is his office's policy not to acknowledge the existence of investigations.

Manasseh said he was not aware that federal authorities are reviewing the matter but said he is confident they will reach the same conclusion that he has reached.

"There's no crime committed by Kentrell in this," he said. "They didn't find him in possession of anything (illegal). They just arrested everybody."

In December, state District Judge Tiffany Foxworth ordered the Baton Rouge Police Department to return more than $40,000 in cash, a $300,000 cashier's check, and two diamond necklaces and a diamond ring that had been confiscated from Gaulden during the September arrest.

Manasseh had argued in a court filing that the seizure and detention of the cash was "illegal and unconstitutional" because the state lacked sufficient evidence to support the confiscation of non-contraband property.

Gaulden is free on $75,000 bond.

"Mr. Gaulden lives out of state and works as a musician," Manasseh notes in the motion dealing with his bond supervision. "As a musician he works on his craft at unconventional times and makes it difficult to comply and communicate with his supervising officer ..."

Gaulden was taken into custody in late September after the BRPD Street Crimes Division and FBI agents received anonymous complaints of people brandishing guns in an abandoned lot and investigated, police have said.

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Officers went to the 3800 block of Chippewa Street about 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 and found members of the “Never Broke Again” (NBA) and “Bottom Boy Gorilla” (BBG) groups — police described them as "gangs" — gathered at the lot shooting a video, Gaulden’s arrest documents state.

When officers arrived, some at the scene ran away while others were detained for questioning. Authorities seized drugs, 14 guns and a large amount of money, police said. One of the guns was a stolen weapon.

Gaulden rose to national acclaim as a teenager growing up in Baton Rouge, but his success has been marred with violence and drama.

State District Judge Bonnie Jackson gave Gaulden a suspended 10-year prison term in 2017 and put him on probation for three years after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm in a 2016 nonfatal shooting.

Gaulden served 90 days in jail in 2019 after Jackson issued a temporary probation hold in the 2016 case. Prosecutors had sought to revoke his probation entirely, which would have sent him to prison for 10 years, following his involvement in a shootout in Miami on Mother's Day 2019 that left a bystander dead.

Gunmen opened fire on Gaulden and several of his associates outside the Trump International Hotel, wounding his girlfriend in the shoulder. Legally armed members of his entourage returned fire, killing a bystander. Miami-Dade police said no members of Gaulden's party would be charged because they acted in self-defense. No arrests have been made in the shooting.

Jackson decided in December 2019 that the rapper had served enough time under court supervision and released him, which ended his probation in the 2016 shooting.

Last month, an associate of Gaulden was indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the fatal September 2017 shooting of rival local rapper Gee Money.

Deandre Fields, 26, of New Roads, is accused of killing Gee Money, whose real name is Garrett Burton, in a parking lot outside Burton's music studio on Dallas Drive in Baton Rouge.

Burton, 22, performed with the TBG (Top Boy Gorilla) group. Gaulden founded the NBA (Never Broke Again) group.

Fields' arrest warrant says Burton released a song that contained "derogatory lyrics" about Gaulden's sister. Gaulden responded with a social media post and then the dissing escalated from there.

After Fields' indictment in Burton's slaying, Manasseh said that as far as he knows "there's never been any insinuation that Kentrell had any involvement in this situation."

Fields himself was shot last spring in Baton Rouge, and local rapper Lit Yoshi, whose real name is Mieyoshi Edwards, is charged with attempted murder in that shooting. Edwards, 22, is a known TBG member, authorities have said.

Edwards is currently free on a $1.82 million bond on seven attempted first-degree murder counts stemming from the April shooting and another shooting on July 4. Those incidents left three adults and two young children injured.

Law enforcement officers testified at Edwards' bond hearing in late July that those shootings were the result of the ongoing feud between the rival TBG and NBA rap groups. Officers described the groups as gangs.


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