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Crime News

Hot 97 Fires Radio Producer Paddy Duke For Involvement In 1989 Mob Killing Of Yusuf Hawkins

“We've inherited something that we have to, as a team, deal with the brunt of,” Ebro Darden, co-host of Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning, said this week after the revelation that Pasquale "Paddy Duke" was part of the mob that attacked 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins. “That's just what it is."

By Dorian Geiger
Yusuf Hawkins G

A staffer for New York City radio station Hot 97 has been fired for his involvement in the racially charged 1980s slaying of Yusuf Hawkins, whose murder is re-examined in a new HBO documentary.

Pasquale Raucci, also known as Paddy Duke, was let go from the radio station amid the fallout following the release of “Yusef Hawkins: A Storm Over Brooklyn.” 

The HBO documentary unpacks racial tensions that led to Hawkins’ murder in the majority white Italian-American Brooklyn neighborhood of Bensonhurst in 1989. Hawkins and several friends, who traveled there to purchase a used car, was confronted by a mob of roughly 30 white youths, some wielding baseball bats, according to a 1989 article published by the New York Times. He was later fatally shot. Prosecutors alleged the white teens had wrongly believed Hawkins was romantically involved with a girl in the neighborhood.

Following the Hawkins' death, unrest engulfed Brooklyn as family, friends, and civil rights leaders like the Rev. Al Sharpton marched through Brooklyn. Sharpton was later stabbed while protesting, the New York Times reported.

In “Storm Over Brooklyn” Raucci is filmed being questioned by law enforcement. He tells them he was at the rear of the uproarious mob that attacked Hawkins. 

While Raucci wasn’t the gunman, he was one of eight charged in connection to Hawkins’ murder. Then 19, Raucci faced second-degree murder, manslaughter, discrimination, rioting, assault, and other charges. In 1991, he was acquitted of murder, manslaughter and discrimination, according to the New York Times, though he ultimately was sentenced to probation and community service for possession of a bat as a weapon.

Joseph Fama was ultimately convicted of pulling the trigger in Hawkins’ slaying. 

Nonetheless, the documentary's revelations surrounding Raucci sent shockwaves through Hot 97, where Raucci had reportedly worked for upwards of two decades. 

“When people saw it, they was like, ‘What in the world!?’” Ebro Darden, a longstanding morning radio host at Hot 97, said on-air this week.

Darden confirmed that Raucci had been let go. 

"The realization is that this couldn't be swept under the rug, obviously, and so he's been fired," he added.

The veteran radio personality noted Raucci worked in the station’s production department, where he recorded and edited radio ads. He was well-known within Hot 97’s ranks and often earned on-air shoutouts. Through the years, he became a staple at the station, earning cameos in rap music videos, along the way. Raucci was reportedly hired in 1994, only five years after Hawkins’ death. 

Darden also admitted to confronting Raucci in the past over his alleged involvement in Hawkins’ death.

"Look, I've had conversations with Paddy Duke,” Darden stated. “And he told me he got swept up in the Yusuf Hawkins situation. He also told me he didn't have nothing to do with it. This was, man it had to be more than like eight, 10 years ago. I didn't know he had a misdemeanor, though, cause he did get charged with a misdemeanor. And I didn't know that his record had been expunged."

The radio station announced Raucci’s termination on Twitter, as well.

“After watching HBO's Storm over Brooklyn, HOT97 was shocked and took swift action,” the radio station said in a statement on Sunday. “Paddy Duke is no longer employed by HOT97. The march for social justice continues.

In a memo to Hot 97 employees, executives reiterated they weren’t “aware of this situation until the airing of the HBO documentary, the New York Times reported. The influential radio station, which is owned by Emmis Communications and MediaCo Holding Inc., warned of the “adverse business impact and damage to our reputation” fallout from the HBO film — and any association with Raucci — could trigger.

“Now, more than ever, we serve as both a source of desperately needed information and entertainment, and any conflict in that relationship harms both our stations and the communities we serve,” the company added.

A number of fans, including former employees, however, quickly took to social media to express their disbelief, particularly questioning how the radio station had managed to employ Raucci for so long.

Hot 97 didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s multiple requests for comment on Tuesday