On Dec. 1, 2015, Mendeecees Harris, star of Love & Hip Hop NY star was sentenced to 97 months, for his role in a drug trafficking conspiracy that police say involved shipping large amounts of cocaine and heroin from downstate New York to the Rochester area of the state. Harris’ criminal ordeal became a part of the show’s storyline as did his wedding, which turned out to be just for the cameras, to Love & Hip Hop NY star Yandy Smith, whom he shares four children with.
During his sentencing, Harris said he’d grown up fatherless and turned to drugs at a young age. He apologized “for any trouble I have caused the city of Rochester.”
The music manager also said having children had been a motivating factor in turning away from his life of crime.
At the sentencing, he told U.S. District Judge Frank Geraci Jr. at the sentencing, “Ever since (having children), I’ve been trying to right my wrongs.”
Harris faced a penalty under recommended sentencing guidelines of 97 months up to 121 months. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Sherman requested a sentence close to the 10 years to show young people “that there are real consequences to the kind of criminal conduct he engaged in.”
Following his exit from his life of crime, Harris had been talking to youth in hopes of having them avoid living the life of crime that he did. Judge Geraci said, “This is a tough case, Mr. Harris, because of the fact you were transporting poison to this community.”
In April 2015, Harris pleaded guilty to the trafficking conspiracy and admitted he was involved in a drug trafficking operation that ran between 2005 and 2012.
In his agreement with federal prosecutors, Harris agreed to turns over money from his television show and paid appearances, which at that time had totaled more than $103,000, according to his attorney Donald Thompson.
In 2017, Dawn Florio, a New York City attorney representing Harris, filed court documents to have Harris’ sentence curtailed, arguing that a change in federal sentencing guidelines allowed Geraci to reconsider the 97-month sentence he imposed on Harris in December 2015.
His appellate lawyers have argued that Harris played a “minor role” in the drug voyage from NYC to Rochester and never did the actual escorting of drugs.
After looking at the guidelines again, Judge Geraci refused to change his 2015 sentence on the argument the sentence was more severe than it should have been. Eventually Harris’s legal team took the ruling to the appellate court and on Feb. 13, 2018, Harris’ requested to have his time cut short, but was denied by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.