Text Messages, Cash Debated At Murder Inc. Trial
Day three of the Murder Inc. money laundering trial got off to a confusing start today (Nov. 21), as attorneys argued over the relevance of text-messaged conversations between label founder Irv LorenzDay three of the Murder Inc. money laundering trial got off to a confusing start today (Nov. 21), as attorneys argued over the relevance of text-messaged conversations between label founder Irv Lorenzo "Gotti" and reputed drug kingpin Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff.
Irv and his brother Chris both arrived to the courtroom early. Murder Inc. rapper Ja Rule didn't show up for the first time since the trial began, while fellow label artist Black Child walked into the courtroom close to noon.
The day began with arguments at the bench about a text message from Irv to McGriff, which said "I love the s*** out of you." The defense contends the note was written to Gotti's wife. However, prosecutors claimed it was sent by Irv to McGriff as a "thank you" of sorts for the shooting of rapper 50 Cent.
Prosecutor Sean Haran went further, arguing "there's absolutely no doubt that Supreme shot 50 Cent that morning" and that Gotti's message shows he was pleased by the incident. Both sides acknowledged that there was no way of proving that Irv personally sent or received the message.
Last week, defense attorney Gerald Shargel accused one-time Murder Inc. employee Donell Nichols of lying about seeing Chris count $70,000 in fives and tens out of a shoebox after Nichols was unable to recreate the scenario with prop money. To offer a counter argument, prosecutor Carolyn Borkony called New York Police Department detective Anthony Castiglia to the stand.
During his testimony, the 20-year police veteran said he conducted his own experiment this weekend by stuffing 7,400 $1 bills into an Adidas shoe box in order to prove that the sum could amount to well over $70,000 if the bills had been fives and tens.
Castiglia also showed a range of shoebox sizes, including a Timberland shoebox, to demonstrate that the box Nichols referred to could have been bigger than the one used in Shargel's demonstration.
In his cross-examination, Shargel asked Detective Castiglia whether he was guessing the size of the shoebox. After further probing from Shargel, the detective admitted that everybody was guessing the denomination and size of the shoe box, but that considering "the standard urban attire," drug dealers were more likely to wear sneakers or construction boots rather then dress-up shoes, a box for which was used for last Thursday's demonstration.
Federal prosecutors then called Jon Ragin to testify. Ragin is a former partner of McGriff's Picture Perfect Entertainment and has previously been convicted of credit card fraud and possession of a controlled substance. He is presently facing between 87 to 108 months in prison and agreed to testify in exchange for leniency. Ragin confirmed that McGriff funded his straight-to-DVD movie "Crime Partners" using drug proceeds.
Prosecutor Barkony then attempted to bring up the 50 Cent shooting, which prompted an immediate objection from the defense. The judge then called for a recess. Outside the courtroom, Shargel told reporters he didn't want the 50 Cent shooting to be included in the trial because "it has no relevance in this case."