Gotti Brothers Money Laundering Trial Starts, Government Outlines Case

Opening statements

started today (Nov. 16) in the federal money laundering trial of Irv and Chris

“Gotti” Lorenzo in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York.

Prosecutors outlined their case against the Lorenzo brothers

as well as their main witnesses to a crowded courthouse, as spectators, including

Ja Rule, Ashanti and a variety of friends, family and members of the press watched.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Haran claimed the brothers knowingly

laundering money for Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, former head of a

Queens, New York drug dealing organization known as The Supreme Team.

Haran claimed McGriff would bring shopping bags and shoe bags

full of money that McGriff would then launder through The Inc.

Prosecutors also claimed McGriff had fraudulent identification

created by Irv and that The Inc. was McGriff’s “personal travel

agency.”

Haran also alleged that the soundtrack to the McGriff-backed

movie “Crime Partners” was another part of the scheme to launder

McGriff’s illicit proceeds through the record label.

Witnesses for prosecutors include an ex-Supreme Team member

and associate of McGriff named Phillip Banks.

The other witness for the government is a former employee of

The Inc. named Donnell Nichols.

The Lorenzo’s are represented by Gerald Lefcourt and Gerald

Shargrel.

Lefcourt defended the brothers first, recounting Irv’s

career from his days as DJ Irv, to his stint at TVT, to his legendary run as

A&R at Def Jam, where he signed such superstars as Jay-Z, DMX, Ja Rule,

Ashanti and others.

The attorney’s maintain that Lorenzo was rewarded by Universal

Music Group with a $3 million dollar record deal to start The Inc. due to his

signing the top-selling artists.

Lefcourt, who represents Irv, said the Lorenzo’s looked

up to McGriff, similar to fans who view characters from “The Sopranos

or The Godfather” and called McGriff a “prop.”

Shargel, who represents Irv’s older brother Christopher

also defended the Lorenzo’s and took aim at the government’s star

witness’s credibility.

Shargel labeled Phillip Banks as an unreliable witness who is

a convicted felon that has no connection to the Lorenzo brothers.

According to Shargel, Nichols was a homeless person and serial

liar who frequently claimed he owned The Inc., despite interning for the company

for just six months.

Both attorneys pointed out numerous mistakes the government

has made and accused federal agents of making false statements while under oath.

Shargel and Lefcourt pointed out that the age discrepancy between

the Lorenzo’s and stated that it was impossible for the men to have been

childhood friends.

Nichols is scheduled

to take the stand tomorrow.

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