Day five of the Murder Inc. money laundering trial got underway today (Nov. 28) in New York, with text messages between label founders Irv and Chris Lorenzo “Gotti” and convicted drug lord Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff a hot-button topic. Federal prosecutors charge the Lorenzos laundered McGriff’s drug money through the label.
During the morning hearing, attorneys for both sides approached the bench for more than 30 minutes to discuss the relevance of the text message correspondence. One particular text, either sent or received by Chris, read, “I got my man in the office. I got 300.” Big John, the individual corresponding with Chris in the text, replied, “Make sure you don’t have feds over there waiting for a n*gga.”
The prosecution argued that Big John, whose identity was never revealed, was actually B.J., an associate of McGriff’s who was also involved in shady financial transactions with the label. However, the defense said Big John was most likely a bookie looking to collect a debt. After nearly 45 minutes, the judge decided to rule out one out of six pages of text messages.
On a lighter note, when a text in which Irv tells McGriff to come to some party because “Jay and Russell Simmons will be there,” was discussed, defense attorney Gerald Shargel said, “We must assume that they’re talking about Jay-Z and Russell Simmons.” In response, Judge Edward Korman asked, “Who is Jay-Z and Russell Simmons?,” prompting laughter throughout the courtroom.
However, the prosecution spent most of the morning attempting to make a connection between the Lorenzos footing the bill for McGriff’s expenses and cash deposits made into their bank accounts with its final witness, New York Police Detective William Courtney.
During his testimony, Courtney read documents he seized from McGriff in Miami, including a series of hotel, airfare and car service bills charged to Universal from McGriff under the alias Ricky Coleman. Including trips in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Miami, the bills, paid for with Chris’ American Express Platinum Business card, totaled $54,396.89.
Prosecutor Carolyn Pokorny then had Courtney read a chart of cash deposits made into Irv, Chris and Murder Management’s Citibank accounts from May to December 2000, totaling $82,000. The prosecutor asked Detective Courtney to identify denominations of the cash deposited in the accounts, prompting both sides to approach the bench.
Pokorny said that the prosecution would show that Chris had “unexplained” cash in his account and required extra money from McGriff to cover his gambling habit. Shargel then asked for a break to consult his forensic accountant.
At deadline, there was no word as to whether or not the defense will call witnesses of its own.
Meet the Murder Inc trial players, read back stories, review case filings and comment at SOHH.com.