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IRV GOTTI AND BROTHER INDICTED

Both Surrender to FBI following Money Laundering Charges
Irv Gotti (born Irving Lorenzo), head of Island Def Jam joint-venture label The Inc., surrendered to federal authorities along with his brother Christopher following the unsealing of Grand Jury indictments accusing the pair of laundering more than $1 million in drug proceeds for childhood friend and notorious Queens drug kingpin Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff and seeking to confiscate the assets of The Inc., according to reports.

Also charged was McGriff, who prosecutors say murdered three people he considered disloyal to his operation. Other charges against McGriff, who is already serving a 37-month sentence on a gun charge, include racketeering and crimes involving the intimidation of witnesses, an AP report says.

If convicted, the Lorenzos could each face up to 20 years in prison, while McGriff could face the death penalty.

The indictments come following a nearly three-year investigation into McGriff’s involvement with The Inc., formerly known as Murder Inc. At least five others, including a label bookkeeper, Ja Rule’s manager (also a label associate) and associates of McGriff have previously been arrested based on evidence turned up by the investigation.

McGriff and associates are charged with running drugs in New York, Maryland and North Carolina and funneling the proceeds through The Inc. But the feds say none of the label’s artists are involved.

“This investigation focused on drug dealing, murder and money laundering. It is not an investigation of the rap industry,'' Reuters quotes prosecutor Roslynn Mauskopf as saying. “Ja Rule, Ashanti and none of the other artists affiliated with Murder Inc. are implicated in any way in this case.”

The charges leveled against the Lorenzos and other The Inc. personnel are not expected to impact IDJ or parent Universal Music Group in a major way. Though UMG declined comment, a source tells AP that the UMG/Gotti joint venture would be dissolved if the charges result in convictions.

Gerald Lefcourt, defense lawyer for the Lorenzos, told reporters his clients have been unfairly targeted: “I think it's a perfectly legitimate operation,'' he said. ``Ultimately I expect Irv and Chris to be vindicated.''
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