Federal prosecutors in New York probing ties between the worlds of drug dealing and rap music have filed murder charges in the slaying of a rapper known as E-Money Bags.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny said yesterday (Nov. 18) that Dennis “Divine” Crosby and Nicole Brown could face the death penalty if convicted of the 2001 shooting. Investigators believe the crime was a revenge slaying ordered by drug kingpin Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, according to documents in the case.
Prosecutors believe McGriff laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money through rap label Murder Inc., the home of such platinum-selling acts as Ashanti and Ja Rule.
McGriff has not been charged in the slaying, but a detective filed an affidavit saying McGriff admitted his involvement to a confidential informant. The affidavit said E-Money Bags, whose given name was Eric Smith, was killed in retaliation for the shooting of McGriff associate Colbert “Black Just” Johnson.
Smith, a minor but up-and-coming performer, was shot to death in his Lincoln Navigator in July 2001. Several men wearing white gloves fired as many as 40 shots into the vehicle, hitting the rapper more than 10 times, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
According to the sealed affidavit posted on the Smoking Gun’s Web site, Crosby and Brown, who lived together, videotaped Smith as he hung out with friends outside Brown’s apartment. The detective described the taping as surveillance in preparation for the killing.
McGriff’s lawyer Robert Simels said Crosby was an acquaintance of McGriff’s and the tape primarily featured Brown’s young daughter and McGriff, with brief shots of the slain rapper’s vehicle.
“There’s no way the federal government is going to seek the death penalty,” Brown’s attorney, Jeremy Orden, said in court. “No way in a million years.” Brown, 42, and Crosby, 38, also were charged with participating in a drug trafficking enterprise involving dozens of kilograms of heroin and cocaine.
McGriff, who is incarcerated on a gun charge, served 10 years in prison for running a crack-dealing crew responsible for numerous murders. Murder Inc. changed its name to the Inc. this year after executives said the label’s image was hurt by court filings alleging links to McGriff.
The bookkeeper for the label was arrested earlier this month and charged with laundering drug proceeds and structuring cash deposits to avoid federal reporting requirements. The laundering charges involve more than $1 million in drug money, according to the indictment against her.
Ja Rule’s manager, Ron “Gutta” Robinson, was arrested Wednesday and charged with money laundering. His attorney said he would contest the charges.
The label has declined to comment on any criminal proceedings. Its founder, Irv “Gotti” Lorenzo, a childhood friend of McGriff’s, has said the federal probe is racially motivated and unfounded.
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