Armed Robbery Victim Forgives Hip-Hop Artist Arioose

  • -  In May 2007, Arioose and an unnamed juvenile wearing mask allegedly entered a
    small 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 by
    Elizabeth police and charged with a first-degree armed robbery.
    This was not Arioose’s first charge or first time arrested. In fact, he had several
    open cases involving drug dealing, resisting arrests, and assaults before Union
    County Juvenile Judge, the Honorable Frederic R. McDaniel. Notwithstanding those
    other cases, this first-degree robbery charge was the most serious charge Arioose
    faced and which later would change his life for good.
    Due to Arioose’s continued criminal episodes and the violent nature of the robbery
    offense, the Union County prosecutor’s office elected to waive Arioose to adult court
    to be prosecuted and treated as adult offender despite the fact that he was a juvenile
    at the time of the incident. Arioose, represented by criminal defense attorney
    Karam Nahas, was able to defeat the waiver and remain within the jurisdiction of
    the juvenile criminal justice system. At that time, Nahas had other violent clients
    who were waived by the Court and treated as adults despite being juveniles. If
    the prosecution’s waiver was successful, Arioose would have been exposed to a
    maximum sentence of twenty (20) years in an adult prison for the crime he would
    later be convicted of.
    Prior to trial for the first-degree robbery, Nahas was able to negotiate a plea offer
    with the Union County Prosecutor who agreed to mitigate Arioose’s charge and
    recommend a probationary sentence should Arioose provide information to the
    prosecutor to incriminate his co-defendant. Despite his counsel’s efforts, Arioose
    refused to cooperate with the prosecution, remained silent, and stood trial in
    July 2007 for a first-degree armed robbery before the same Judge McDaniel who
    adjudicated his past cases and came to know Arioose too well.
    At trial, the victim of the armed robbery Fan-Fan testified against Arioose and his
    co-defendant who at that time was on the run. Fan-Fan testified that he was robbed
    at 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 the
    juvenile prison of New Jersey.
    During his incarceration, Arioose reached out to Nahas explaining to him that he
    wanted to change his life and become a professional music artist. Nahas took a
    liking to the talented young convict after hearing his first demo CD recorded in
    prison. At that time, Nahas agreed to help Arioose change his life and pursue a
    career in music upon his release only if Arioose promised to change his mind set and
    begin a productive personal and professional career.
    Upon Arioose’s release from prison, Nahas traveled with Arioose to Miami where
    they recorded the first unreleased tracks outside of prison at Studio Center in Miami
    Lakes. Arioose worked with music engineers Drop and Manny Mercado. Studio
    Center has recorded such artists as Flo-rida, Black DADA, Raekwon, Capone-N-
    Noreaga, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Juvenile and works with recording labels such as
    Sony/BMG, Warner Bros., Atlantic, Jive, Universal and Def Jam.
    Returning from Miami, Nahas contacted famed photographer Tom Medvedich to
    conduct a photo shoot with Arioose in his neighborhood of Elizabeth and in front
    of the store he robbed. Tom Medvedich has photographed for the Source, XXL, and
    Spin magazine and has shot other artists such as Rick Ross, Pharrell, Jay Z, Raekwon
    and Spike Lee to name a few.
    After explaining to Medvedich the story behind the robbery, Medvedich decided
    to shoot Arioose in front of Fan-Fan’s convenient store – the store that Arioose
    had robbed nearly four years ago at that time. During the shoot, the place that
    previously 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 and
    curiously walked towards the store.
    Nahas immediately recognized the man to be Fan-Fan, Arioose’s robbery victim who
    appeared to be older and weathered from the hardships of life. At that point, Nahas
    and Arioose approached Fan-Fan who also immediately recognized the criminal
    defense attorney who cross-examined him as well as the suspect who attempted to
    rob him as juvenile.
    For Arioose and his team, that day was a very special moment. Arioose was able to
    apologize and reconcile with the man he robbed and traumatized. Interestingly, a
    man that could very easily have been Arioose’s father, as both Fan-Fan and Arioose
    are Haitians and slightly resemble one another. Arioose, Nahas and Fan-Fan spoke
    for some time as Arioose explained to Fan-Fan what he’s accomplished since prison
    and how he is now pursuing a career in music. Fan-Fan hugged Arioose and shook
    his hands commending him for his positive actions and was visibly happy to see
    that Arioose had changed his life from a negative to a positive. Fan-Fan pledged his
    support 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 world
    coming back full circle and was unplanned or premeditated. Five years had elapsed
    since Arioose had allegedly stuck a gun in Fan-Fan’s face and since that time, both
    Fan-Fan and Arioose moved on but never had forgotten.
    When Arioose was asked about the impact of seeing Fan-Fan outside of the
    courtroom, Arioose replied, “It was a life-changing moment for me. I was blessed
    to 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 I
    now have his support was a way for me to put closure to my past and move forward
    with a fresh slate.”
    When Nahas was asked about how he felt seeing the victim that he questioned in
    Court years ago, Nahas explained, “In our business, we rarely see a positive outcome
    from a negative event. Personally, it was good to see Fan-Fan after all these years on
    non-adversarial terms. I aggressively cross-examined him during a heated trial and
    he did not take it personally. He understood that it’s the nature of our business. For
    Fan-Fan to forgive Arioose and support his second chance at life despite what he’s
    done speaks volumes as to Fan-Fan’s noble character.”
    All these events are true and all the people involved in this article, even the Union
    County prosecutor who brought Arioose to trial, continue to encourage Arioose’s
    development as a professional music artist.

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