Fulton County district Prosecutor Fani Willis has built a reputation as a hard-line prosecutor striving to fill Atlanta jails with full-scale indictments. But YSL Mondo, who formed the Young Stoner Life music crew alongside Young Thug in the early 2010s, narrates Rolling Stone that the Fani Willis he sees on TV is not the same woman who served as his defense attorney in a 2019 aggravated assault case.
“That’s not her character, that’s not what she is,” he says during a phone call. “I’ve had aunt-to-nephew, mother-to-son talks with her. I don’t know about her character. That prompted me to look it up [the YSL case] as i know it’s bigger than just her. There’s politics behind this shit. There are other people pulling the strings behind her.”
Willis – who is currently prosecuting Young Thug and 13 other defendants in a RICO case alleging YSL is a criminal gang, which he has denied – worked as a prosecutor in the Fulton County Attorney’s office for 16 years, before leaving However, office briefly in 2018 to establish her own private practice, The Law Offices of Fani T. Willis, LLC. Mondo, a West Atlanta rapper who has released his debut album 1 of them on Jan. 17, says he was previously unaware of Willis or her reputation as a prosecutor before his cousin suggested her as a defense attorney. “I’ve never heard of this lady, I’ve never heard of her fighting cases or nothing. I just went out of my cousin’s power and said she was a good lawyer, she was a good wife and she was her friend. I gave up and then hired them.
He posted a clip of the court proceedings of his 2019 case on Instagram. In the now-deleted video, the two stand before a judge, and Willis pats him on the shoulder while hugging his child, who was brought to the defense table. “It really wasn’t something I wanted to keep secret because the video is on my site,” he says. “The video there went viral. I shot that out there because I know it’s going to come at the end,” says Mondo. Mondo says he posted the video to proactively prevent anyone from thinking “weird shit” about his interactions with Willis. There was immense controversy surrounding the December settlements in the YSL indictment, and Mondo has indicated that he does not wish to put his name anywhere near the speculation.
Reached via email, Fani Willis appeared to confirm that she represents YSL Mondo, despite using his government name (which he asked that we not print), noting: “I don’t know him by the name he does you name him.”
“All conversations with him are attorney/client protected and it would be inappropriate for him to confirm that I represented him,” Willis wrote. “Oh, I think I can say I liked him. I hope he’s fine.”
She added: “When I represented [him], he got 110% bet from me. I stood up for him with zeal. I tend to meet my customers where they are. I hope you understand what that means. I want to see him do amazing things with his life and I hope that’s where he goes.”
Mondo says Willis was a “great attorney” for him, lowering his charge of aggravated assault to a lesser one and sentenced him to “a program” instead of jail. He says that even after his sentencing, she worked to get him released early from the program due to COVID. And beyond their casework, he says the two had a “cool relationship” as she was aware of his rap career and even used it in her defense. That’s why the YSL indictment comes as a surprise to Mondo. “It’s not her character,” he claims. “She’s almost like she’s not really on the road, but she understands what’s going on bro. She understands life to a certain extent. She’s not trying to take down all these little black guys. She’s not that kind of woman, man. I’m telling you, she’s not.”
Mondo recalls that Willis’s final pieces of advice gave him some insight into the direction of her career.
“She was like, ‘Don’t mess up my name. You know I’m getting ready to run for this district attorney. You fool around and do something else, I’ll stick it up your ass,’” he recalls of their conversation. (Willis told us the comments “sound like me, but I don’t remember the conversation verbatim.”) After his case was resolved, the two never spoke again, and he hadn’t kept up with her until two years later he saw it her press conference announcing her desire to condemn his friends in the YSL, including Young Thug. “The next thing you know, I saw her on TV making that charge and I was like, ‘Damn, where the hell is that coming from?'” he recalls.
Mondo says he met Thug through their mutual friend Buck Buck and they co-founded Young Stoner Life purely as a music crew. In 2019, he had a public disagreement with Thug after Mondo’s Instagram comments about the formation of YSL were misconstrued, but he says the two have since worked out their differences and that he has been keeping up with Thug’s family since the indictment. “I’ve spoken to Mama Thug, I’ve spoken to his sisters,” he says, adding that Thug “remains strong” given his circumstances. “Thug keeps his good humor and keeps his head up, but there are certain things he’s just disappointed in,” he says, refusing to go into detail.
Young Thug, real name Jeffery Williams, and 13 of his co-defendants are scheduled to appear in court sometime in the next six weeks following the conclusion of the extensive jury selection process.