• Lynda Cohen

Local video artist wants kids to learn from his mistakes

Updated: May 28

‘I just want us to do better and be better,’ Chais Hill says

Chais Hill with his mother, Marie, before he went in to his sentencing.

Chais Hill was on his way to a successful business as a video maker and producer. The local rapper’s company had worked on campaign videos for the major players in last year’s Atlantic City mayoral election. And he was becoming known for doing positive with the area’s youth. But then payment for a troubled past came. “I’m to go in here and face this music,” Hill said in a Facebook Live video he took from outside the Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing on Friday. This was his last public service announcement for a while, he let his watchers know. “I’m just tired of seeing everybody from here that’s got an opportunity to get out fall victim to a product of their environment,” he said. “I just want us to do better and be better.” A short time later, he would stand before a judge and be sentenced to five years in prison. He must serve the entire time. Hill has said he was already done with the drug scene when he was arrested in October 2013. The charges were significant. The grand jury passed up a 20-count indictment that included distribution of a half-ounce or more of heroin and possession of a .380 highpoint semi-automatic handgun. Last March, he turned down an offer of seven years with five years of parole ineligibility. If convicted, his likely sentence would be 30 years with 15 of parole ineligibility. He wound up pleading to possession with intent to distribute and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, which stemmed from a penknife possession when he was 18, and he and his friends were searched coming home after playing basketball.

“My children always stand up for what they’ve done,” said Hill’s mother, Marie Hill. “He took the responsibility and the blame.”

It was difficult, the 70-year-old woman said, to see her son sentenced. But she felt that Superior Court Judge Benjamin Podolnick was fair and respectful.

Marie Hill said she refuses to believe God didn’t answer her prayers for this. She thinks there’s a plan and hopes her son will come out with an education and a new start.

Meanwhile, the family will pull together, including his wife, their son — who is in his third year of college — and two daughters.

“I hope he accomplishes something during his time,” she said.

Chais plans to get an education while he’s in prison.

“I don’t want to see nobody end up in the same position I am,” he told those watching online Friday. “Don’t put yourself in those stupid positions. Put yourself in the position to be successful.”

Hill said he was tired of seeing promising talent that he and partner Anthony Archetto would film being in the news the next week for being involved in a shooting or drug raid.

“I’m just tired of seeing that all of our heroes we look up to from here,” he said.

At one point, Hill showed what he was wearing, including socks and slides on his feet and five layers of clothing in preparation for jail.

“You know I’m a fly guy, I don’t dress like that,” he said.

“This a PSA from everybody,” Hill said. “Somebody’s got to do it. Hopefully I come home to a bunch of successful artists and people out here doing things.”

Local video artist tries to focus on future as troubled past looms

Chais Hill appears to be an example of the positive that can come out of Atlantic City, as he builds up … Read more…

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