The prosecution called former Murder Inc. employee Donell Nichols to testify today (Nov. 17) as the money laundering trial of Irv and Chris Lorenzo entered its second day.
The prosecution called former Murder Inc. employee Donell Nichols to testify today (Nov. 17) as the money laundering trial of Irv and Chris Lorenzo entered its second day. The brothers are accused of laundering more than $1 million in profits from notorious drug dealer Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff through Murder Inc.
Hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, frequent Murder Inc. producer 7 Aurelius and Murder Inc. artists Black Child and Cadillac Tah, who weren't present on day one, all appeared to show their support today.
According to federal prosecutor Sean Haran, Nichols, 31 of Brooklyn, spent six months working with the Inc. in 2000, first as director of marketing and then as Chris' assistant.
During his testimony, Nichols said he recalled an incident when McGriff dropped off a plastic bag in Chris' office. The bag was said to have contained a shoe box with a large sum of money. Shortly after, Nichols said he heard Chris instruct Murder Inc. bookkeeper Cynthia Carr to cut a check to McGriff's company, Picture Perfect. Nichols also contends he saw McGriff drop off money in a similar fashion three or four more times, and that Carr was told to cut checks to Picture Perfect in each case.
Rebutting the defense's claims that Irv and Chris didn't know McGriff when they started the label, Nichols also testified that comments made in the Murder Inc. offices led him to believe the Lorenzo brothers were acquainted with McGriff when they started the label. He then testified that he personally gave McGriff a two-way pager and that it was being paid for by Murder Inc. parent label Def Jam. Nichols also recalled that McGriff allegedly got checks from another hip-hop label, Ruff Ryders.
However, during Nichols' cross-examination, defense attorney Gerald Shargel tried to expose the witness as a liar. Shargel said Nichols was fired for Murder Inc. and claimed he embezzled 10 percent of all incoming checks from the company. Nichols refuted Shargel's claims and said it was his decision to leave the label after a night club shooting unrelated to the company.
According to Shargel, Nichols often lied about being an A&R representative for both Def Jam and Murder Inc., both while he worked there and after he left. The defense also said Nichols is known for fabricating stories, including a tale about his father killing his mother.
The defense raised further questions about Nichols' credibility when they questioned why he was asked to leave his volunteer position at Atlanta's East Point Presbyterian Church. According to Shargel, he was caught downloading pornography on the Internet.
The highlight of the morning came when Shargel questioned Nichols about seeing Chris count $70,000 out of a shoe box and put the money in rubber bands. Defiant, Shargel passed to Nichols a shoe box and $70,000 in prop money and then asked Nichols to put the money in box. Nichols said it was impossible and argued that he never specified denominations, but Shargel then read Nichols exact quotes to that effect from an interview with the prosecution.
Meet the Murder Inc trial players, read back stories, review case filings and comment at SOHH.com.