As it stands right now, Max B is facing 75 years in prison after he was convicted of manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, kidnapping, possession of a weapon and conspiracy in 2009. But the New York MC said he’s staying as positive as possible and operating under the radar.
When MTV News got him on the phone Monday (June 28) from New Jersey State Penitentiary in Trenton, he explained why he recently fired his trial lawyer, Gerald M. Saluti.
“Anytime you lose a trial, on most occasions, people will fire their trial lawyer,” he said. “You would need to do something like that. For those who’s not familiar with legal terms, it’s called ineffective assistance of counsel — that’s when your lawyer fails to do his obligated duties. I ain’t supposed to be in here in the first place. My charges were excessive. I was never at the scene of the crime. It’s very insufficient. Just off that alone, I’ll be back. It ain’t about me being convicted. It’s about: Can this conviction stand up in an appellate court? If they deny me on this one, then I’mma do an interview and tell the people, ‘Don’t wait up on me.’ It’s gonna be about four, five, six years later than that.”
Max (born Charlie Wingate) was convicted of masterminding the robbery of David Taylor and Allan Plowden. The pair was set up by Max’s former girlfriend Gina Conway, who testified for the prosecution in the trial in exchange for a lighter sentence. Jurors felt that there was enough evidence to convict Max’s stepbrother Kelvin Leerdam of being the gunman and murderer of Taylor. Although Max wasn’t at the scene, jurors handed down a guilty verdict to him as well. Max was sentenced to 75 years in prison in September, but he said the term was reduced to 40. The prosecutor in the case had not returned MTV News’ calls for comment as of press time.
“The sentence wasn’t really nothing,” Max said. “It was the ‘guilty’ that was more effective. The part when the jurors say ‘guilty.’ That hurts more than the sentence itself. At that time, I’m coming to court every day. I got the cameras on me. I got my girls waiting outside. I got French [Montana] and them n—as in the parking lot. My Beamer is parked in the lot. My jewelry is on. But now, when they say I’m guilty, I gotta take off my watch. I gotta take off my chain. I gotta pass it off. I pass off my car keys, my apartment keys, and I gotta walk to the back. I can’t walk out that gate. I gotta walk to the back and get locked up. That’s the part that hurt me the most. The sentence, by the time I got to that point, I didn’t hear none of that. I was already deaf to that sh–. My focus was already, ‘All right, we trying to get back.’ I’m not worried about the sentence, because I’m not doing that time. That’s not a number to me. They could’ve gave me a billion years, that sh– is not gonna stand up. That has to stand up in an appellate court. Now if [an appeals court] say, ‘Charlie Wingate, we found no error, you can’t come home’ — once I exhaust all my remedies, that’s different. But it’s still early. I’m on my direct appeal. I’ll be home.”
It could be quite some time. Max said, realistically, he’ll have to do at least another year and a half in jail.
“They should feel grateful. They should be thankful they got another chance,” Max said of his peers, such as Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and T.I., who were all sentenced to around a year in prison. “Even though I got another chance, it might not come as easy and quick. My sh– might take up to three years for me to get outta here. It might be 18 months. But that’s just the worst-case scenario. The only person I felt really caught a rough deal was Remy [Ma] . Our situations was similar, as far as the lawyer and stuff go. [Remy] was working and not really focusing on the case at hand. Same thing with me. I was working, not focusing on the case at hand that mattered. And the end, when I had to go in that courtroom, I wasn’t prepared. I just let my lawyer do whatever. That’s a lesson. You got be on top of lawyers, you gotta do your own studying when you get situations like that. You can’t put your faith in his hands. They’re only human. Humans disappoint people. You gotta put your faith in God. You gotta work hard. It’s gonna be all right.”
In the meantime, Max’s work will be heard. He recorded dozens of tracks before going to prison, and the music will be brought to the fans by the label Amalgam Digital. The company just put out the Mixtape A Wave Called Yes, which features Max and his rap accomplice Young Riot. Max’s next solo LP, Vigilante Season, is set to drop later this fall.
Look for more of Max as he expounds on both projects Tuesday in Mixtape Daily.