One-Time Fugees Rapper Pras Michel Guilty In Corruption Trial

 One-Time Fugees Rapper Pras Michel Guilty In Corruption Trial

Pras Michel: Guilty As Charged (Photo: Debby Wong /

FUGEES rapper PRAS MICHEL was found guilty in a criminal corruption trial arising from one of the world’s biggest financial scandals after a three-week trial in federal court, where he was convicted on all 10 counts of the federal offenses he faced, including campaign finance violations, money laundering, illegal lobbying, witness tampering and lying to banks.“It is not complicated,” prosecutor SEAN F. MULRYNE told jurors in his closing argument. “At its core, it is simple and straightforward: Mr. MICHEL broke the law.”The case featured illicit cash, alleged conspiracies involving campaign finance violations and illegal lobbying and a cast of characters from the worlds of entertainment and government, including LEONARDO DiCAPRIO, who offered testimony as did former Attorney General JEFF SESSIONS. Others whose names came up included MARTIN SCORSESE, KIM KARDASHIAN, as well as former presidents BARACK OBAMA and DONALD TRUMP. Along with MICHEL, the trial focused on his absent co-defendant, fugitive MALAYSIAN financier LOW TAEK JHO, who investigators believe fled to CHINA. Starting in the 2000s, LOW orchestrated the theft of $4.5 billion from MALAYSIA’s economy and embarked on a lavish lifestyle in the U.S. LOW used part of the funds to finance SCORSESE’s “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” with DiCAPRIO.MICHEL, who reinvented himself as a documentary producer and businessman, told the jury he was introduced to LOW at a party in 2006. Then, in 2012, he testified, LOW contacted him for help, knowing that MICHEL was a big OBAMA supporter .LOW wanted a photograph of himself with OBAMA, and he paid MICHEL $20 million to make it happen. MICHEL used the $20 million to buy $865,000 in tickets to OBAMA events, mostly in other peoples’ names to avoid individual contribution limits. In addition, MICHEL donated $1.1 million in his own name to an OBAMA political action committee, also drawing on the funds he had received from the MALAYSIAN.MICHEL testified that he pocketed the rest of the $20 million because he considered all of the money to be legitimately his — a payment for arranging the photo.Prosecutors argued that the donations were unlawful “conduit contributions” originating with LOW, meaning that MICHEL illegally funneled about $2 million from a foreign national into a U.S. presidential campaign.Defense attorney DAVID E. KENNER insisted, “Mr. MICHEL did not willfully and deliberately funnel campaign contributions. He was trying to make money, a lot of money. And you know what? … It is not illegal to make money.”By 2017, LOW was under investigation in the U.S. for his alleged involvement in looting MALAYSIA’s sovereign wealth fund. Businesswoman NICKIE LUM DAVIS, an acquaintance of MICHEL’s, introduced him to an associate of hers, ELLIOTT BROIDY, a top REPUBLICAN fundraiser with close ties to the TRUMP administration. A prosecutor described BROIDY as “the fixer” LOW secretly hired to get him out of legal trouble.In a deal brokered by MICHEL, BROIDY testified, LOW agreed to pay him $50 million or $75 million, depending on how quickly he was able to quash the probes. MICHEL received tens of millions of dollars from LOW for his lobbying efforts, according to prosecutors, who said his total take, dating to 2012, exceeded $100 million.MICHEL testified that he did not know it was illegal to lobby for foreign nationals without registering with the U.S. government. Kenner argued that because his client “was not willful and was not deliberate” in violating the law, he should be acquitted. “The government’s case under FARA is a house of cards,” he told the jury.But prosecutor MULRYNE said the onetime rap star conspired “to sell out our democracy” for a pilfered foreign fortune. “He was greedy,” the prosecutor said. “He wanted money, and he got it.”

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