Posted by Dave
Rap News Network
12/1/2005 8:35:34 PM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Jay-Z and Russell Simmons.
Hip hop royalty turned out in force yesterday in a star-studded show of support for Irving (Irv Gotti) and Christopher (Chris Gotti) Lorenzo during contentious closing arguments at the music moguls' trial.
The brothers, who are accused of laundering drug money for one of New York's most notorious cocaine kingpins, made sure there were front row seats for Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, Damon Dash, Ashanti and Ja Rule.
A court clerk even bounced an official from the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office to make room for rotund rapper Fat Joe.
The jury is expected to begin deliberating the charges - which could put the Lorenzos behind bars for 20 years - today.
Simmons, who grew up in Hollis, Queens, like the Lorenzos and gave Irv Gotti his start at Def Jam records, questioned the government's motives in bringing the case.
"Poverty and ignorance in our community is more of a problem than convicting our poets," Simmons told reporters outside Brooklyn Federal Court.
Between signing autographs, the stars listened as prosecutors and defense lawyers clashed before a packed gallery.
Prosecutor Carolyn Pokorny pounded the defendants, who she accused of laundering illicit cash through their successful Murder Inc. record label for Kenneth (Supreme) McGriff, "the biggest, baddest, most dangerous druglord in New York City."
The Lorenzos allegedly accepted large sums of drug cash packed in shopping bags and shoeboxes, then filtered the drug proceeds back to McGriff in the form of corporate checks, travel expenses and funding for a movie, "Crime Partners," produced by the crack kingpin.
"They helped him masquerade around the country pretending to be a music executive with legitimate income," she said. McGriff "was a street thug."
Members of McGriff's feared gang, known as the Supreme Team, became "embedded" at Murder Inc. in various positions, including Irv Gotti's driver and Ja Rule's bodyguard.
Pokorny ripped defense lawyers Gerald Shargel and Gerald Lefcourt for their tactics which, she argued, were beneath "men of a certain age."
"I may be a man of a 'certain age,' but I'm not going to talk to you like you're in kindergarten," Shargel told jurors. "Even if Supreme McGriff was the biggest druglord in the world - forget New York - and even if 'Crime Partners' was the worst movie in the history of American entertainment, there is nothing illegal in giving financial backing to the movie."
The defense lawyers argued that McGriff may be a bad guy, but he provided street credibility and protection to Murder Inc. artists.
"My reputation is what keeps n------ in line, never to f--- with us," McGriff told Irv Gotti's wife in a text message.
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