The Inc. Founder Seeking Separate Trial
A hip-hop mogul charged in a racketeering case is seeking a separate trial from a notorious drug lord who is his co-defendant -- and childhood friend.A hip-hop mogul charged in a racketeering case is seeking a separate trial from a notorious drug lord who is his co-defendant -- and childhood friend.
In papers filed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., attorneys for Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo and his brother Christopher Lorenzo, also charged in the case, asked a judge to give them an immediate trial separate from Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff.
Irv Lorenzo heads the Inc., home to platinum-selling artists Ashanti and Ja Rule; his brother is an employee. Unlike the Lorenzo brothers, McGriff and three other defendants named in the same indictment face murder counts that make them eligible for the death penalty.
The brothers' lawyers argued placing their clients on trial with McGriff would prejudice a jury. "The Lorenzo defendants seek a speedy trial at which they will be able to clear their names and their business reputations," according to the papers.
A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn declined to discuss the case. No trial date has been set. Prosecutors allege McGriff and the Lorenzos funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug profits through the Inc., a label owned partly by Island Def Jam.
McGriff, 44, was founder of the Supreme Team, once one of the city's most violent drug crews. Investigators allege that after he finished serving about nine years for drug conspiracy in 1997, he set about reviving his drug-dealing operation.
Cooperating witnesses have told investigators McGriff allegedly admitted to the 2001 revenge slaying of up-and-coming rapper E-Money Bags in the New York borough of Queens. Prosecutors also believe he arranged the Baltimore killing one month later of a suspected informant in his drug organization. Another man also died in the Baltimore shooting.
McGriff's lawyer has accused the government of pushing the cooperating witnesses to falsely implicate people.
Irv Lorenzo founded the Inc. as Murder Inc. in the late 1990s and embraced a gangster image. He changed his label's name last year to deflect negative publicity from the investigation.
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