A Los Angeles parole board yesterday (Feb. 25) ordered the release of rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, who has been in jail since a Dec. 23 arrest for associating with gang members. The board dro

A Los Angeles parole board yesterday (Feb. 25) ordered the release of rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, who has been in jail since a Dec. 23 arrest for associating with gang members. The board dropped four of five charges against Knight, 37, and gave him credit for the 61 days he's spent in Los Angeles County jail. One count of association with a known gang member was upheld.

Knight is to be released today. He will be required to spend 200 hours in community service aimed at persuading kids to avoid gangs, said Bill Sessa, a spokesperson for the California Board of Prison Terms. "He's very relieved, but he's known that his conduct was not the type that should have sent him back to prison," said Knight's lawyer, David Chesnoff, after the hearing.

Knight served five years in prison for assault and federal weapons violations and was released on parole in August 2001.

The charge upheld against Knight related to his association with Tim McDonald, a security guard employed by Knight's record company, Tha Row, formerly known as Death Row Records. Under the terms of his parole, Knight was permitted to associate with McDonald, who is listed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department as a known gang member, only during work hours.

But Knight spent time with McDonald on several social occasions, Sessa said. On one occasion, Knight accompanied McDonald to a hospital to visit a relative of McDonald who had been shot. "While that's certainly something you would applaud from a personal standpoint, that was a violation of his parole," Sessa said.

Sessa said he believes Knight will be effective at deterring teens from joining gangs. "He has a lot of influence. We believe kids will take it very seriously because he is so well-known and can talk from his own life experience," Sessa said.

Chesnoff said Knight already planned speaking engagements with kids to discourage them from joining gangs. "He was going to it anyway, so it's not any kind of punishment," Chesnoff said, adding, "Mr. Knight is a strong individual who is going to go back to work and make music and films and everything he's excellent at."

Knight remains on parole until April 2004.


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