Attorneys in the Murder Inc. money laundering trial spent nearly an hour at the bench discussing the relevance of text messages and articles that followed the shooting of 50 Cent, as day four of the trial began today (Nov. 22). Prosecutors are aiming to connect the incident to reputed drug kingpin Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, who they accuse of laundering money via Murder Inc. through label founders Irv and Chris Lorenzo.
Defense attorney Gerald Shargel attempted to submit today’s New York Daily News, which features 50 on the cover, as an exhibit in hopes of showing how the rapper’s 2000 shooting is still a sensational topic. Shargel also mentioned reports from New York radio station Hot 97, among other outlets.
Prosecutor Sean Haran instead highlighted text messages sent to Murder Inc. artist Black Child when 50 Cent was shot. “You need to call me immediately. Are you stupid? You’re f***ing up. Stop everything you’re doing,” one message read.
Haran argued that the messages showed motive considering that Black Child was convicted of stabbing 50 Cent at New York’s Hit Factory recording studio months earlier. Haran also mentioned a text message sent from Irv to his wife assuring her that she was safe, stressing that it wasn’t a coincidence Irv assured his wife he was safe the day 50 was shot.
Prosecutors then focused again on the relationship between McGriff and the Lorenzos. In one instance, Haran said Irv sent McGriff a text message shortly after the alleged murder of Queens drug dealer E Money Bags. “Nothing is over. Turn up the heat on these patsies,” Irv wrote to McGriff.
Haran also mentioned an incident in which McGriff’s nephew, Prince, stabbed a former Inc. associate, Quaseem, for insulting Irv. Haran then said if the text messages weren’t allowed into the trial, it would be a misleading representation of the relationship between the Lorenzos and McGriff.
The defense then cross-examined John Ragin, a former partner in McGriff’s Picture Perfect film company, and inquired about his investment in the “Crime Partners” film and meetings that took place at Def Jam surrounding the soundtrack.
During his initial testimony, Ragin said he could identify checks and had knowledge of McGriff giving money to the Inc. Yet, under Shargel’s cross-examination, the defense reminded the court that Ragin admitted he never saw McGriff give money, but only heard about it.
The prosecution then called IRS special agent Greg Coats to the stand. Coats, one of the search agents during the Inc.’s January 2003 raid, told Haran he saw notes that read, “Cut the check,” and said he found a sheet that listed the Inc.’s budget. The sheet indicated that McGriff would receive $100,000, but owed $35,000.
Later, Coats read a fax sent to Chris’ office that revealed that Chris and employee Donell Nicholls had made it to the 15th position on a chart of the top 20 A&R representatives in the music business. The defense had previously argued that Nicholls had never been an A&R with the Inc.
Next up, the government called IRS special agent John Lopez. Lopez, the team leader on the search, confirmed that $35,000 in cash was found in Chris’ office. Shargel then inquired whether or not Lopez paid attention to the denomination, hinting that the cash might not have been street money.
While Inc. rapper Ja Rule was a no-show in court for the second straight day, the Hip-Hop Action Summit Network’s Dr. Benjamin Chavis came to show support.
Meet the Murder Inc trial players, read back stories, review case filings and comment at SOHH.com.