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Antonio Valentino King: 

Rising music star continues to fight case in Black Hawk Co.

WATERLOO — The attorney for a Chicago-area rapper is asking the court to reconsider revoking his probation in connection with a 2012 drug conviction in Waterloo.

Authorities said Antonio Valentino King, 26, who performs under the name 600Breezy, broke the rules of probation when he used drugs and traveled to perform at venues in Houston and Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, attorney Tina Muhammad of Des Moines told the court in a motion King’s corrections classification level is so low he doesn’t qualify for programs in prison and hasn’t been ordered to take drug treatment.

“King is a contributing member of society as he is gainfully employed as a successful entertainer with a record deal and royalties,” Muhammad wrote in her motion. “King has been writing music and working while incarcerated and can instantly become a benefit to society and his family upon release.”

Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney Kim Griffith is resisting the motion, noting the court already denied an earlier reconsideration request in September. She said the matter is now in the hands of the Iowa Board of Parole.

King’s problems began before sunrise May 30, 2012, when members of the Tri-County Drug Enforcement Task Force began a series of raids as the result of a crack cocaine investigation, arresting nine people from Waterloo and Chicago and seizing drugs, cash and guns.

King, then 21, was arrested for possession of crack with intent to deliver, and he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison suspended to five years of probation. The probation was transferred to Illinois.

Muhammad said King stayed out of trouble — although he was shot in two different incidents — and his music career got off the ground. Then in early 2017, with just months to go on his five-year probation stint, he attempted to get permission to travel to Canada to perform with singer Drake. His Illinois probation officer said he needed Iowa authorities to sign off on the request.

Shortly after that, Iowa corrections officials went to court, charging that King violated probation by leaving Illinois without permission to perform at Houston’s Ayva Center in October 2016 and Lure in L.A. in December 2016. Officials also pointed to social media posts that allegedly placed King in New York, Oakland, Calif., and East Atlanta, according to court records.

King also tested positive for marijuana in 2015 and 2016 and was shown with weapons and drugs on social media, corrections officials said in court records. The probation petition included photos from Instagram and screen shots from Bing image searches.

At a June 2017 hearing, Judge Andrea Dryer — despite refusing to consider the state’s search engine and social media exhibits — found King had violated the terms of his probation, revoked the probation and imposed a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

On social media, the hashtag #freeBreezo was born, and there was a brief legal battle over whether $3,071 in cash King was carrying when he was detained should go to court costs and fines.

In September, Muhammad asked for a reconsideration, alleging the June hearing included hearsay statements and King had been given permission to travel. The request also stated King suffered from post traumatic stress disorder from the shootings and was self medicating with marijuana. He obtained a medical marijuana license from Illinois in 2016, records state.

Supporters, including the organization Black Lawyers for Justice, said the matter shows a racial bias.

King is black, and supporters point to statistics that show while African-Americans make up 9 percent of Black Hawk County’s population, they are incarcerated at a rate nine times that of whites.

The group is planning a town hall meeting on Justice for Black Iowans at the Waterloo Center for the Arts on Commercial Street scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 31.

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Police and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Courier

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