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Chicago rapper Chief Keef will spend at least 90 days in a high-priced California rehabilitation facility in a deal worked out Friday in Cook County court, Pioneer Press is reporting.
Keef, 18, whose real name is Keith Cozart, received the OK from Judge Earl Hofferman to be sent to the Promises Treatment Center in Malibu rather than serve his sentence in the Haymarket Center in Chicago.
The move came over the objections of prosecutors, who wanted Cozart jailed for 30 days before going to rehab.
The Englewood-born Cozart, who has a Northbrook residence in his name, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a conditional discharge violation after he tested positive twice for drugs following a series of skirmishes with the law.
Those run-ins include a traffic arrest in May in which he was clocked driving 110 mph on the Edens Expy. He was sentenced to 18 months probation, then served 20 days in jail for failing a previous drug test.
Hofferman originally ordered Cozart into the Haymarket Center drug treatment facility, but agreed to let the teen go to California, making it clear he would not tolerate further run-ins with the law.
“If you don’t do what you are supposed to do in this program, I promise you will spend the rest of the time in prison,” Hofferman said to Cozart. “I hope you get something out of this.”
For the first 30 days of the program, Cozart will not be allowed to leave the facility. If, after 30 days, he is deemed to be making sufficient progress by center officials, he will be allowed to make supervised visits to studios to record music.
Officials in California will have to clear that with the judge. Conversely, if more than 90 days is deemed necessary in the rehab process, Cozart will stay at Promises.
“I want to make it clear to the program that (early release) is not their decision, it is mine,” Hofferman said. He added that if he sees enough benchmarks cleared, he is willing to let Cozart pursue his career.
“If he wants to do a record, who am I to prevent him from doing that?” Hofferman said.
A status hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12 to see how Cozart is progressing. One of Cozart’s lawyers was optimistic about the chances for success.
“It’s a higher level of treatment which adds to the odds of it being successful,” said attorney Barry Spector.
Cozart said during his court appearance on Wednesday that he takes drugs to deal with the stress he is under.
He told Hoffenberg that as an 18-year-old musician with children and many others depending on him, he needed the drugs.
“I’m a rapper,” Cozart said. “You don’t kill anyone on weed. To be a rapper, sometimes weed is the thing.”
Hoffenberg conceded Cozart does have a lot of responsibility, as his attorney noted there are 40 people, including two children, depending on him.
“You are under more pressure as 18-year-old than I am with five grandchildren,” the judge said.
However, Hoffenberg did sentence him to rehab. “I don’t think jail is good for you, but I do think you need some treatment,” he said.
Spector, who joined Cozart’s legal team on Friday, was thankful for the decision.
“I think it is fair and gives him the opportunity to get the treatment the judge wants him to get in a setting other than the Cook County Jail,” Spector said. “The ball is in Keith’s court, and if he can do what the judge asks him to do, everything is going to turn out fine.”
Cozart’s manager, Rovaun Manuel, was not thrilled with the sentence, but accepted it.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I think this is too much for a speeding ticket.”
Manuel later estimated the cost of the program at Promises to be $250,000.
The steep price may be worth it as Hofferman was adamant that Cozart would not get another chance to avoid jail time.
Using a baseball analogy, Hofferman said, “Strike three, you are out, or you are in as the case may be.”