The attorney for a Grammy Award-winning rapper who was just hit with a guilty verdict in a wide-reaching federal conspiracy trial is still predicting his client will “ultimately prevail” despite the jury’s findings to the contrary. However, achieving such success will likely be an uphill battle for Pras Michel, who starred as one-third of the hip-hop trio The Fugees in the late 1990s.
On Wednesday, Michel (commonly known simply as Pras) was found guilty of 10 counts related to a major conspiracy plot against the U.S. government in a federal court in Washington, D.C. Michel faced multiple counts over the failed plan to help Malaysian businessman Jho Low and the Chinese government gain access to high-profile U.S. officials, including former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Last week, Michel testified that Low paid him $20 million to get a picture with Obama in 2012. Prosecutors alleged that Michel then funneled $800,000 of that payout to Obama’s campaign through several straw donors.
Michel fired back in defense, saying that he spent the money because he wanted to, not as an order by Low.
Low allegedly went to Michel again in 2017, when Trump was in office. Low directed over $100 million to Michel, in an effort to push the government to drop its investigation against him.
It was alleged that Low played a key role in billions of dollars being embezzled from 1MBD, a sovereign wealth fund in Malaysia.
Prosecutors argued that the “Ghetto Superstar” rapper advocated for the extradition of Guo Wengui, a Chinese dissident, on the Chinese government’s behalf. (He has since been arrested and charged with fraud in a separate case.)
Michel testified that he only tried to help Low find an attorney in the U.S. to help his case. The $100 million, he said, was for a media business he was starting. He also said that the money didn’t come from Low.
Unfortunately for him, Michel had to face trial alone as Low has fled the country. He is believed to be hiding in China.
After the verdict was returned, Michel’s attorney remained “very confident” about his client’s future.
“We are of course very disappointed, but I am very confident in the ultimate outcome of this case,” Kenner said in a statement emailed to NewsOne before adding later that the judge in the case will still be accepting briefs of motions on behalf of the defense.
“That briefing schedule extends out into July,” Kenner continued. “Her honor pointed out today that after those decisions are made, based on the briefs, she will determine whether it is still necessary to move to a sentencing hearing. If we do move to a sentencing hearing, I remain very confident that we will, with certainty, appeal this case. This is not over. I remain very, very confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter.”
Pushing for a mistrial was among the motions Kenner said he filed during the trial.
“It is Her Honor’s practice take those under submission and to rule on them after all of the evidence is in,” Kenner added. “I remain enormously confident that this case is not over and that we will ultimately prevail.”
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