Lupe Fiasco's Business Partner Receives 44 Year Prison Sentence

Charles Patton, a partner and music producer for rapper Lupe Fiasco's 1st and 15th record label, has been sentenced on drug charges. The mogul was sentenced to 44 years in prison in May, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The verdict was handed down in a Cook County courtroom by Judge Dennis Porter, despite letters written on Patton's behalf by several record label executives. Although Fiasco did not answer requests for a comment, the rapper expressed his reaction in a letter to the court. "I love Charles . . . I am deeply saddened by his circumstances and will stand by him and his family no matter what occurs," Fiasco wrote. Patton's sentencing marks the end of years of legal wrangling over the case. According to reports, Patton was caught with six kilos of heroin he had stored in a suburban storage locker. The street value of the stash was about $1 million. Investigators believed that Patton, who was arrested in 2003, was dealing drug since the late 1980s, years before he and Fiasco began their music careers. "There is a large amount of money that he received from the sales of heroin. And he was able to start up a record company." said Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Coughlin, who charged Patton and his wife Inita with running a drug enterprise that would have supplied more than 900 grams of heroin to buyers. Although nine other people were charged with the Pattons, court records show that one person was acquitted in the case, while the others either pled guilty or were convicted. Fiasco, who was never charged, was at Patton's home at the time of the arrest. The rapper took the stand during the trial and testified that he had several recorded phone conversations with the Patton in which they talked about splitting up "whole yellow'' and "whole red'' ones. A witness for the prosecution who was directly involved in Patton's drug operation testified that the colors referred to the mixing and prepping of $10 heroin packets, the Sun-Times reported. Fiasco, who denied any drug involvement, countered the witness' claim in his testimony for the defense by saying the colors referred to the mixing and prepping of music tracks. Despite Coughlin's views, prosecutors did not present any evidence to support a link between 1st and 15th and Patton's drug dealing. Investigators believed the Gulf War veteran's rise to the top of Chicago's drug-dealing world came through negotiations with Nigerians as well as the alleged use of profits from record deals to buy heroin and turning it around for street sales in Chicago. Patton was instrumental in the success of Fiasco, whom he met at Thornton Township High School. The pair started 1st and 15th around 2000 and released Fiasco's critically-acclaimed debut album Food and Liquor in 2006. The release went on to collect three Grammy nominations that same year.