NEW YORK (AP) – Federal prosecutors probing ties between the worlds of drug dealing and rap music filed murder charges Thursday in the slaying of a rapper known as E-Money Bags.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Pokorny said 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 Queens drug kingpin Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, according to documents in the case.

Prosecutors believe McGriff laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in drug money through the rap label Murder Inc., the home of such platinum-selling acts as Ashanti and Ja Rule.

E-Money Bags, whose given name was Eric Smith, was shot to death in his Lincoln Navigator in Queens Village.

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 Smith was killed in retaliation for the shooting of McGriff associate Colbert “Black Just” Johnson.

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.

McGriff, who is incarcerated on a gun charge, served 10 years in prison for running a crack-dealing crew responsible for numerous murders.



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