Judge denies bond for YSL rapper Young Thug over RICO charge

A Fulton County judge had denied bond for Young Thug after expressing concerns over threats he may have made. The ruling came early in the evening after hours of testimony.

The 30-year-old rapper, whose legal name is Jeffery Lamar Williams, watched the proceeding remotely from the Cobb County jail as the ruling was handed down just shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday.


Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville said he took several things into consideration. That includes a threat introduced to the court attributed to Williams from 2015 that states "Anybody goes into courtroom and tells the god's honest truth, they'll be f---ing killed." The judge said the validity of that threat would need to be proven in court, but it speaks to his possibly being a danger to the community.

"The two things that the court has significant concerns about are him being a danger to the community and flight," Judge Glanville said during his ruling.

Earlier in the day, defense attorney Brian Steel proposed an unprecedented house arrest program that he said would involve 24 armed off-duty police officers, who would work around the clock and get paid $60 an hour at one of Williams’ four metro Atlanta homes.

A criminal defense investigator testified that the unprecedented security operation would cost more than $1 million a year, but prosecutors argued defendants should not be able to pay their way out of jail. They said Williams is a violent gang leader who poses a tremendous threat to the community.

"It will undergo a complete search that can include K-9 drug dogs, we’ll do whatever it takes to satisfy your honor," said criminal defense investigator Charles Mittelstadt. "And we will search that and bless that environment and from that second forth, law enforcement will be put in place and nothing will come in and out of there."

"We have taken proffers from fellow gang members of Mr. Williams. Some are on this indictment, some are not. They have stated uniformly that Mr. Williams is dangerous, they are afraid of him, that if they cross him, he will kill them and their family."

Williams was arrested in Buckhead as part of a sweeping gang indictment that also named 27 other people, including fellow Atlanta rapper Gunna. Fulton County prosecutors allege those named in the indictment are members of the Young Slime Life (YSL) gang, which has engaged in criminal activity in the city since 2012. 

In the 88-page indictment, prosecutors allege Williams is a co-founder of YSL. The indictment also gives a detailed account of various crimes alleged members of YSL are accused of, and documents social media posts and rap lyrics by Williams that reference YSL. 


Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the stage name Young Thug, was arrested on May 9, 2022.

Jeffery Lamar Williams, who goes by the stage name Young Thug, was arrested on May 9, 2022. (Fulton County Sheriff's Office)

Since his arrest, Steele has alleged that his client has been "living in total isolation as if he is a forgotten person alone in the world."

In his emergency motion, Steele said Williams had been placed in "solitary confinement," relegated to a "windowless cement compartment with only a bed and a toilet and an overhead light which remains on 24 hours per day." He states the rapper has no access to any type of media and "no opportunity to exercise, shower or have human contact."

If convicted of a RICO charge, Williams could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.


Atlanta rapper Gunna, who is also charged with violating the RICO Act, had his bond denied in May. A judge set his court date for January 2023.

What is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, was developed to fight organized crime. It was enacted in 1970 after being signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

Federally, RICO was originally was intended to be used to combat the Mafia. It draws from a list of 27 federal crimes and eight state crimes committed repeated over the course of a 10-year period. Those crimes can include fraud, theft, computer crimes, embezzlement, credit scams, investment schemes, human trafficking, illegal gambling, bribery, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, counterfeiting, and various drug charges.

The Justice Department has used RICO to dismantle multiple crime families and weed out corruption in several city police departments. Prosecutors have also used RICO to try to dismantle several street gangs and helped in prosecuting businesses that break federal law.

Georgia’s RICO statutes are similar to the federal version , but are much broader in that the criminal "enterprise" does not have to be around as long. Georgia is one of only 33 states that has its own RICO statutes. However, in both state and federal laws, a pattern of criminal enterprise has to be established.