NEW YORK — One of the men accused in the 2002 murder of hip-hop star Jam Master Jay has pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges — taking a plea that means a minimum 15-year prison sentence.
Jay Bryant, 50, still faces a looming murder trial in the Run-DMC founder’s 2002 slaying, but on Friday he pleaded guilty to all four counts in a separate drug trafficking and gun possession case in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Eating the indictment means a mandatory minimum of 10 years on one of the counts, and another mandatory five years on another count, with the sentences running consecutively. He could face more time than that, depending on what Judge Brian Cogan decides at his March 7 sentencing.
“They refused to make him an offer despite our earnest attempts, so he accepted responsibility for what he’s done,” his defense lawyer, Cesar de Castro told the New York Daily News Monday.
Up until his arrest last year, Bryant acted as “the head of a narcotics syndicate in the Columbia, Penn., area that obtained its supply of narcotics in New York City,” according to prosecutors.
The case against Bryant involved multiple crack cocaine deals to informants, while law enforcement agents watched and recorded. He was also caught on video weighing out crack cocaine, and was caught with crack during a car stop, and more than 200 grams of powder cocaine in his home, according to court filings.
“To protect my drug business, I had a gun,” he said as he entered his guilty plea Friday.
Bryant was locked up in the drug case when he was indicted in Jam Master Jay’s slaying in May — nearly three years after the arrest of two other men, Ronald “Tinard” Washington and Karl Jordan for the killing.
De Castro successfully argued to sever Bryant’s case from the other two suspects, who are set to go to trial in January. Bryant’s trial likely won’t happen until at least 2025.
Federal prosecutors allege that Washington and Jordan wanted revenge on Jam Master Jay, real name Jason Mizell, for cutting them out of a nearly 10-kilogram drug deal when they stormed into his Queens music studio on Oct. 30, 2002.
Prosecutors believe Jordan was the shooter, but court documents allege that Bryant bragged about pulling the trigger to an unnamed third party. The feds also say they have a sample of Bryant’s DNA on a piece of clothing left behind at the scene.