Federal prosecutors are demanding a tougher-than-usual prison sentence for Raphy Pina on his illegal firearms conviction, citing his prior felony conviction and the “carnage” that can be caused by automatic weapons.
With sentencing looming next month in Puerto Rico over Pina’s December conviction, both sides are in the process of asking the judge for what they think is an appropriate sentence. Pina, who manages Daddy Yankee, is also gearing up to appeal the verdict, which could overturn the conviction altogether.
Sentencing guidelines say Pina should face 33 to 41 months, but in a Tuesday court filing, prosecutors asked for a steeper range of 46 to 50 months. To justify the request, they pointed to the fact that Pina was previously convicted of another felony in 2016, and that he had been caught with a modified automatic Glock handgun that was “uniquely dangerous to the public.”
“Despite having a successful career, the resources be a productive law-abiding citizen, and assuring the court he would follow the law, Pina chose to illegally possess firearms, and a machine gun to boot,” the feds wrote, saying such guns had caused “carnage” in Puerto Rico.
Pina will file his own sentencing memorandum in the weeks ahead, where he will likely argue for a far shorter sentence. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 16 in San Juan federal court. Pina’s attorney and a spokesperson declined to comment on the government’s request, citing the pending proceedings.
Pina was indicted in August 2020, accused of possessing two handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition despite the fact that he was barred from doing so because of his 2016 conviction (on federal fraud and money laundering charges). In December, he was convicted of one count of possession of an automatic weapon and another count of possession of firearms by a person convicted of a felony.
Though he hasn’t yet filed his appeal, attorneys for Pina hinted last month at how they might seek to overturn his conviction: “Trial of this case was rendered fundamentally unfair by a number of grave errors, some of them of constitutional magnitude,” Pina’s attorneys wrote in the March filing.
More specifically, they said the judge unfairly allowed inadmissible evidence into the case, and also violated his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments by refusing to allow a defense witness that they say could have testified that Pina mostly lived in Miami when the alleged crimes took place.
But before such an appeal is filed, Pina will face sentencing at the May 16 hearing. In Thursday’s filing urging the harsher sentence, prosecutors quoted from the transcript from his 2016 sentencing, in which he reportedly told a judge “there will not be a next time.”
“Pina, who was a convicted felon at the time he was indicted in this case, had received a below-guidelines sentence for his first federal conviction, and that clearly failed to deter further criminality,” the prosecutors wrote.