“Money Mike” pleads for Snapchat shooting video
A Houston rapper was sentenced to a year behind bars after pleading guilty to shooting a gun from a moving vehicle in a now-viral Snapchat video, his attorney confirmed Monday.
Michael Anthony Cuellar, 30, pleaded guilty last week to the misdemeanor of deadly conduct for shooting into a ditch in 2017, said lawyer Paul Looney.
“Nobody was ever in danger, he shot into a bar ditch,” Looney said. “He fired a gun inside the city limits. He did the same thing that thousands of other people are about to do on New Year’s Eve, and it’s the same level of crime.”
According the court records, Cuellar is a local rapper who goes by the name “Money Mike.” Court records alleged that he was a known drug dealer, a claim his lawyer disputed. Looney has said Cuellar is a family man who has a relationship with his children, including coaching youth soccer.
Cuellar and Sierra Tarbutton, 28, were charged with felony criminal mischief, after police saw video from Sept. 26, 2017 of the two shooting blindly from a car into a neighborhood deserted because of Hurricane Harvey a few weeks before.
The video clips posted on the social media platform Snapchat apparently show the couple smiling as they fire more than a dozen shots into a neighborhood near the 15800 block of Memorial Drive. The two were identified after police compared the videos to other social media accounts and law enforcement search engines, according to court records.
Looney said the video actually proves Cuellar’s account that he was shooting into a ditch.
“If you go back and take a look at the video, you can see the barrel has a slight downward trajectory,” Looney said. “We went out and hired experts and they documented all of that.”
The lawyer said Cuellar paid experts thousands of dollars to show that he was shooting down, yet still had to take the maximum jail time when he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor.
“It took a lot of documentation before anyone was willing to take the risk of discounting the case to a misdemeanor,” Looney said. “They hammered him because it wasn’t his first rodeo.”
Looney noted that the area in which the couple allegedly fired shots had been evacuated or was practically deserted because of Hurricane Harvey.
Tarbutton, who had other cases pending when she was arrested, pleaded guilty last year in exchange for a five-years prison sentence.