- DirtySouthHIpHop.com - In May 2007, Arioose and an unnamed juvenile wearing mask allegedly entered asmall convenient store in Elizabeth, New Jersey and robbed the Haitian store owner(Fan-Fan) at gunpoint. The two juveniles then fled and were later apprehended byElizabeth police and charged with a first-degree armed robbery.This was not Arioose’s first charge or first time arrested. In fact, he had severalopen cases involving drug dealing, resisting arrests, and assaults before UnionCounty Juvenile Judge, the Honorable Frederic R. McDaniel. Notwithstanding thoseother cases, this first-degree robbery charge was the most serious charge Arioosefaced and which later would change his life for good.Due to Arioose’s continued criminal episodes and the violent nature of the robberyoffense, the Union County prosecutor’s office elected to waive Arioose to adult courtto be prosecuted and treated as adult offender despite the fact that he was a juvenileat the time of the incident. Arioose, represented by criminal defense attorneyKaram Nahas, was able to defeat the waiver and remain within the jurisdiction ofthe juvenile criminal justice system. At that time, Nahas had other violent clientswho were waived by the Court and treated as adults despite being juveniles. Ifthe prosecution’s waiver was successful, Arioose would have been exposed to amaximum sentence of twenty (20) years in an adult prison for the crime he wouldlater be convicted of.Prior to trial for the first-degree robbery, Nahas was able to negotiate a plea offerwith the Union County Prosecutor who agreed to mitigate Arioose’s charge andrecommend a probationary sentence should Arioose provide information to theprosecutor to incriminate his co-defendant. Despite his counsel’s efforts, Ariooserefused to cooperate with the prosecution, remained silent, and stood trial inJuly 2007 for a first-degree armed robbery before the same Judge McDaniel whoadjudicated his past cases and came to know Arioose too well.At trial, the victim of the armed robbery Fan-Fan testified against Arioose and hisco-defendant who at that time was on the run. Fan-Fan testified that he was robbedat gunpoint and by a knife while at his store by Arioose and the other juvenile.Arioose was later convicted of the charge and sentenced to three years in thejuvenile prison of New Jersey.During his incarceration, Arioose reached out to Nahas explaining to him that hewanted to change his life and become a professional music artist. Nahas took aliking to the talented young convict after hearing his first demo CD recorded inprison. At that time, Nahas agreed to help Arioose change his life and pursue acareer in music upon his release only if Arioose promised to change his mind set andbegin a productive personal and professional career.Upon Arioose’s release from prison, Nahas traveled with Arioose to Miami wherethey recorded the first unreleased tracks outside of prison at Studio Center in MiamiLakes. Arioose worked with music engineers Drop and Manny Mercado. StudioCenter has recorded such artists as Flo-rida, Black DADA, Raekwon, Capone-N-Noreaga, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Juvenile and works with recording labels such asSony/BMG, Warner Bros., Atlantic, Jive, Universal and Def Jam.Returning from Miami, Nahas contacted famed photographer Tom Medvedich toconduct a photo shoot with Arioose in his neighborhood of Elizabeth and in frontof the store he robbed. Tom Medvedich has photographed for the Source, XXL, andSpin magazine and has shot other artists such as Rick Ross, Pharrell, Jay Z, Raekwonand Spike Lee to name a few.After explaining to Medvedich the story behind the robbery, Medvedich decidedto shoot Arioose in front of Fan-Fan’s convenient store – the store that Arioosehad robbed nearly four years ago at that time. During the shoot, the place thatpreviously was a convenient store was now closed and apparently out of business.As Medvedich shot Arioose in front of the store, an older man appeared andcuriously walked towards the store.Nahas immediately recognized the man to be Fan-Fan, Arioose’s robbery victim whoappeared to be older and weathered from the hardships of life. At that point, Nahasand Arioose approached Fan-Fan who also immediately recognized the criminaldefense attorney who cross-examined him as well as the suspect who attempted torob him as juvenile.For Arioose and his team, that day was a very special moment. Arioose was able toapologize and reconcile with the man he robbed and traumatized. Interestingly, aman that could very easily have been Arioose’s father, as both Fan-Fan and Ariooseare Haitians and slightly resemble one another. Arioose, Nahas and Fan-Fan spokefor some time as Arioose explained to Fan-Fan what he’s accomplished since prisonand how he is now pursuing a career in music. Fan-Fan hugged Arioose and shookhis hands commending him for his positive actions and was visibly happy to seethat Arioose had changed his life from a negative to a positive. Fan-Fan pledged hissupport and encouragement towards Arioose and formally forgave him for his past.The appearance of Fan-Fan at the photo shoot was symbolic of Arioose’s worldcoming back full circle and was unplanned or premeditated. Five years had elapsedsince Arioose had allegedly stuck a gun in Fan-Fan’s face and since that time, bothFan-Fan and Arioose moved on but never had forgotten.When Arioose was asked about the impact of seeing Fan-Fan outside of thecourtroom, Arioose replied, “It was a life-changing moment for me. I was blessedto have the opportunity to confront Fan-Fan outside of the courtroom, man to man,and understand who he was as a person. To shake his hand and understand that Inow have his support was a way for me to put closure to my past and move forwardwith a fresh slate.”When Nahas was asked about how he felt seeing the victim that he questioned inCourt years ago, Nahas explained, “In our business, we rarely see a positive outcomefrom a negative event. Personally, it was good to see Fan-Fan after all these years onnon-adversarial terms. I aggressively cross-examined him during a heated trial andhe did not take it personally. He understood that it’s the nature of our business. ForFan-Fan to forgive Arioose and support his second chance at life despite what he’sdone speaks volumes as to Fan-Fan’s noble character.”All these events are true and all the people involved in this article, even the UnionCounty prosecutor who brought Arioose to trial, continue to encourage Arioose’sdevelopment as a professional music artist.
Armed Robbery Victim Forgives Hip-Hop Artist Arioose
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