By Christina Carrega
The co-founder of a once-popular clothing line was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday for illegally carrying a gun.
Streetwear mogul Rodney “Bucks” Charlemagne, co-founder of the Slowbucks clothing brand, walked into Queens Supreme Court sharply dressed and seemingly unprepared to learn that a weapons possession conviction carries a minimum sentence of three and-a-half years.
“So everyone is clear, probation is not an option by law,” said Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder.
Charlemagne, 31, was found guilty of illegally possessing a gun after a jury trial this summer. He said he found the gun by accident three days before the arrest in November 2015.
Defense attorney James Kousouros argued that even the minimum sentence is unnecessary in this case. The maximum is 15 years.
Charlemagne, who is also a hip hop music affiliate, was behind the wheel of a double-parke, brand new white Land Rover that was blocking traffic on Steinway Street in Astoria when police showed up.
Charlemagne was driving with a suspended license, which prompted a search of the luxury SUV and discovery of the loaded diamondback .380 caliber pistol, according to the criminal complaint.
During a videotaped statement, Charlemagne refused to tell detectives where he found the weapon.
“I made a mistake trying to do something good for someone,” said Charlemagne, who has donated his music studio equipment to Rikers Island for the juvenile offenders to use. “I'm not a person looking to do negative things. I try to live best by the people I care about and who care about me.”
Charlemagne testified on his own behalf that he recovered the gun from a young person who was attempting to rob his music studio and called an NYPD detective he knew to report his findings.
“There's no way that he [the detective] would let the phone hang up and not tell you to leave the gun and don't touch it,” Holder said. “If [the detective] knew a young black man driving in New York City in a $200,000 car and knew, for whatever reason, the chances of getting pulled over is a real thing and didn't give you instructions, [that] is not credible.”
Charlemagne volunteers with Life Camp Inc., a leading anti-violence group that runs programs, conducts outreach and performs conflict resolution to prevent young people from getting shot. The judge read from a letter submitted by a Life Camp representative asking for leniency.
“In this letter, it states your direct role is with helping reduce violence, all that's commendable,” Holder said, adding that he questioned why Charlemagne didn't use his mediation skills to help turn the alleged robber's life around.
“In your story to the jury, you had an actual person you could have helped and you just let him go. It’s not a snitching situation,” Holder said.
Charlemagne attempted to interject as the judge was speaking to further explain but was barred.
“I don't believe there was a young man at all, but your story was inconsistent with your behavior on paper,” said Justice Holder. “I believe you lied on the stand.”