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Feds: Murder Inc. Had 50 Shot

I.R.S. alleges label is run by a drug lord

May 5, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Irv Gotti may be CEO of rap label Murder, Inc., home of Ja Rule and Ashanti, but, according to a newly released I.R.S. affidavit, it is notorious New York drug kingpin Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff who is calling the shots. Among the allegations is that McGriff was involved in a shooting of top-selling MC 50 Cent after 50 dissed him in a song.

In January, an I.R.S. special agent testified that McGriff, a convicted drug felon who spent six years in prison from 1989 to 1995, founded Murder, Inc. after his release to launder money from heroin and crack-cocaine trades. The label is now in a lucrative partnership with Def Jam, which itself is a division of industry giant Universal Music Group.

Drawing heavily from evidence gathered from a two-way pager owned and paid for by Def Jam that McGriff uses, the affidavit alleges that he now holds a "prominent" but "largely secret" position within the company. Murder, Inc. pays McGriff large sums of cash, covers his travel and many of his business expenses, and its offices -- particularly the CEO's office -- on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan are the venue from which McGriff conducts much of his criminal empire.

In turn, the label has exploited McGriff's reputation, resources and muscle to intimidate its rivals and assert its will in the industry, including in a scheme to extort a rival executive, the affidavit alleges.

The testimony was used January to justify a federal seizure of McGriff's bank accounts and for a raid on Murder, Inc.'s offices.

McGriff faces sentencing in June for weapons-related parole violations.

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