NEW YORK (AP) – A federal probe of the rap music industry’s alleged ties to the drug world has resulted in charges against the founder of a hot-selling music label and a convicted crack kingpin, law enforcement sources said Tuesday.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn were expected to announce an indictment against Irv “Gotti” Lorenzo, head of the Manhattan-based label, The Inc., and Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff today.

The law enforcement sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Gotti and McGriff, who are longtime friends, would be charged in the murder conspiracy and money laundering case. Gotti’s brother, Christopher Lorenzo, and The Inc. also would be named as a defendants, they added. The sources requested anonymity and declined to detail any of the charges because the indictment had not been made public.

Gotti, his brother and McGriff, who is serving time on an unrelated gun conviction, deny any wrongdoing.

Gotti’s lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, insisted on Tuesday that The Inc. is a legitimate business financed by part owner Island Def Jam, a Universal Music label. The Inc. – formerly known as Murder Inc. – has sold about 20 million records behind flagship artists Ja Rule and Ashanti.

McGriff’s lawyer, Robert Simels, accused the government of relying on cooperating witnesses who were charged with lesser crimes.

“I’ll be curious to see which one of these creative geniuses have been able to weave a tale that the prosecutors want to hear,” he said.

Gotti and McGriff are suspected of funneling proceeds from McGriff’s cocaine and heroin operation to Gotti’s label, according to court documents filed in support of search and property seizure warrants.

In recent weeks, federal agents have arrested an accountant for The Inc. and the manager for Ja Rule. At least five other defendants, including associates of McGriff, already have been charged.

McGriff, 44, was founder of the Supreme team, once one of the city’s most violent drug crews. Investigators suspect that after he finished serving about nine years for drug conspiracy in 1997, he set about reviving his lucrative – and deadly – drug-dealing operation.

The cooperating witnesses have told investigators that McGriff admitted to the 2001 revenge slaying of up-and-coming rapper E-Money Bags in New York and arranged the Baltimore killing one month later of an informant in his drug organization. A security camera captured a luxury sport utility vehicle registered to a McGriff associate dropping off another shooting victim’s body at a Queens hospital in 1999, court papers said.

The Inc. was founded as Murder Inc. in 1997. Gotti changed his label’s name earlier this year to deflect negative publicity from the investigation.



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