The rapper Casanova remained in federal custody Thursday (Dec. 3) after surrendering to law enforcement in a gang-related federal racketeering case, authorities said. The New York City rapper, whose legal name is Caswell Senior, was charged in an indictment unsealed this week against 18 members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation gang, which authorities say operated in New York City and other parts of New York state.
The gang is charged with a litany of crimes, including the killing in September of a 15-year-old boy in Poughkeepsie and defrauding programs meant for people suffering economic hardship because of the pandemic. The charges stemmed, in part, from six wiretaps involving the gang, prosecutors said. Casanova, 34, turned himself in to the FBI late Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and firearms possession. He is not charged with killing the child.
“Members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Audrey Strauss, the acting U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, said in a news release this week. His defense attorney, James Kousouros, said Casanova had been “painted with a broad brush of conspiratorial conduct” in an indictment short on specifics. "He expects to be exonerated,” Kousouros told The Associated Press. “He denies any of the charges, to the extent we can even understand them. Here’s a man who surrendered in a case for which he’s looking at life in prison, which is consistent with the act of an innocent man.”