Murder Inc. Prosecution Completes Closing Arguments
Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, Ashanti and Ja Rule came to show support for Irv and Chris Lorenzo "Gotti" as the prosecution and defense submitted their closing arguments on day seven of Murder Inc.'s moneyJay-Z, Russell Simmons, Ashanti and Ja Rule came to show support for Irv and Chris Lorenzo "Gotti" as the prosecution and defense submitted their closing arguments on day seven of Murder Inc.'s money laundering trial.
The defense appeared to purposely place stars in the same row at an angle for the jury to see as Ja Rule, who arrived to the court room late, later moved from a back row to sit next to Simmons. The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network's Dr. Ben Chavis and the Inc. R&B singer Lloyd also were on hand to support, while Fat Joe walked in nearly an hour into the prosecution's closing arguments. Damon Dash stood outside the packed courtroom and greeted his fellow celebrities at the break.
The prosecution began its lengthy argument with prosecutor Carolyn Pokorny stressing that the Lorenzo brothers were best friends with convicted drug lord Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff and knew they were taking dirty money into their label.
"They laundered money," said Pokorny. "They took dirty, filthy street money from the drug trade. They took Supreme's dirty money and gave clean money back. This is what this case is about. Bad money going in, clean money going out. You heard all this talk about hip-hop, Jay-Z and Russell Simmons. This talk about street credibility. The defense wants you to look at that because they don't want you to see the money laundering."
Pokorny then proceeded to recall numerous points previously brought up during the trial, including two checks totaling $65,000 that Murder Inc. cut to McGriff's Picture Perfect Entertainment and checks of $6,000 and $135,000 paid to Holloway House Publishing to purchase the rights to "Crime Partners" on McGriff's behalf. The government also mentioned that Murder Inc. convinced its then-parent label Def Jam to pay McGriff $1 million for the star-studded "Crime Partners" soundtrack.
In opening arguments, defense attorney Gerald Shargel held a sign that read "says who?" in response to the prosecution's money laundering allegations. Pokorny then flipped Shargel's concept and declared "Chris says so." She then went on to discuss the executive's large cash withdrawals and read a chart that says, "McGriff owes 35k" to the Inc. "The only kind of money Supreme got is drug money," Pokorny told jurors.
Pokorny repeatedly dropped Chris' name, hinting that he was at the center of most of the Inc.'s incriminating practices. "You've got Chris spitting, hemorrhaging, swimming in cash like you wouldn't believe" she charged.
The prosecutor then attempted to smear the label by showing how McGriff's criminal associates wound up at Murder Inc. Minutes later, she said Irv wasn't sneaky and referenced one of the text messages purportedly sent between him and McGriff. "I need that money. I need that dirty, filthy money that you get when you do your drug run to Baltimore," Pokorny said while interpreting the transmission.
Next up, the government brought up such incidents as Murder Inc. bailing out Born Knowledge, McGriff's drug runner and Irv's personal driver, with a $50,000 check. Another text message was highlighted in which McGriff receives permission to visit the label's bookkeeper. "What in God's name is the biggest drug dealer in New York doing interacting with their bookkeeper?" Pokorny asked.
She concluded by reminding jurors that four witnesses -- Jesus Romano, B, Donnell Nichols and Jon Ragin -- admitted to seeing drug money coming in to the label, stressing that none of them had incentive to lie on the stand.
The jury, comprised of four women and 10 men ranging in age from their early 30s to their late 50s, remained expressionless throughout. The jury took a brief break at midday as the defense prepared for its closing arguments.