Kevin Chiles: Penthouse Interview

Article by Seth Ferranti

As much as I was reluctant to take the plea for ten years, I have to admit that once it was done, I actually felt relieved.

Can you elaborate on this reaction?

Fighting for my liberty every day for nearly three years, while also trying to keep my immediate family out of jail and continue to financially support my women and kids, was exhausting. I was on a roller coaster of emotions with every small victory countered by a devastating setback. The plea wasn’t the resolution I had hoped for, but at least it meant the uncertainty was over. I’d grown wiser during the process. I could never be the old me. I’d gotten a front-row seat to racism and classism, and how power affects policy and all of our lives. Systemic injustices aren’t just catchphrases used by civil rights leaders and militants, they’re part of the everyday fabric for people of color.

It was clear to me the government didn’t play fair. Since I took a plea, it allowed the government to seize the money, stocks, insurance policies, jewelry, cars, and my house, which they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. It was clear all the government wanted were convictions. I was initially labeled a “kingpin,” but I ended up pleading out to possession and the sale of seven kilos of coke with no codefendants. I treated jail like it was my last two years of high school. I was simply doing what I had to do. The wants were the same, which was ultimately getting the fuck out and getting back to the streets.

Clearly, I was no longer a teenager doing teenage things, but this was probably the first time since high school I was forced to do things I did not want to. I really looked at jail as something I needed to just get through until I could resume life again.A year after my plea, I went from a low-security facility to a federal camp. My time in the low-security facility was mostly uneventful. However, when they sent me to the camp, it was like putting a fox in the chicken coop. Camp had so many less restrictions that it actually opened up a whole new set of issues for me, because it was clearly in my nature to fully exploit these circumstances. My instincts and nature led to acommissary hustle that netted anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 a week. Additionally, while conjugal visits were not permitted, my youngest was conceived while I was at the camp. I have alwaysfound a way to match my will.

What are you doing now, and what are your future plans?

Nearly two years ago, I did an interview with Funkmaster Flex on one of the biggest radio shows in the country, Hot 97 in New York. A friend and attorney subsequently reached out. I’d previously discussed doing a book project on my life, but I never felt comfortable with the timing. With some initial reluctance, I began writing The Crack Era: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of Kevin Chiles. The book became a labor of love and therapy, one I’m proud to have the chance to share with the public. Its completion coincides with the Don Diva twentieth anniversary. The book’s release, potential TV deals, and other opportunities are the culmination of many years and hard work, and I’m excited about this next chapter in my journey.

Seth Ferranti is a former federal prisoner whose writings have been featured on VICE, Don Diva, and Gorilla Convict. He’s also the author of the crime series Street Legends, and the comic series Crime Comix.

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