Knight and Death Row Records have filed a $106 million dollar lawsuit against
Michael "Harry-O" Harris and others in Los Angeles Federal Court.
Harris and Wasserman
Comden Cassleman and Pearson LLP are named in the lawsuit, which claims Harris,
who is serving a 28-year-sentence in a California State prison for attempted
murder and drug dealing, attempted to blackmail people and businesses in the
music industry, by threatening to allege that proceeds from his drug enterprise
were invested in legitimate businesses.
In 1997, Harris
told the Los Angeles Times that he struck a deal with Knight to fund Death Row
Records. Harris said he helped create Death Row along with Suge Knight and his
lawyer David Kenner, but was excluded from his due share of profits from the
According to Harris,
the two sealed the deal from Harris’ prison cell, where he agreed to invest
$1.5 million dollars to form a company with Knight, which was to release Andre
"Dr. Dre" Young’s classic album, The Chronic.
He told the paper
he spoke to Knight often while Dr. Dre Young was recording The Chronic
in late 1991. According to prison records, Knight visited Harris over two dozen
times over the next 18 months.
Harris says Knight
and Young struck a deal with Interscope records and released The Chronic
in 1992, which sold over 3 million copies and won two Grammy Awards.
Knight has denied
Harris’ stories consistently for almost 10 years.
to realize what kind of guy this is…Michael Harris makes things up to try
to get out of jail," Knight wrote in a letter to the Times in 1997.
to Knights claims, stating: "I am not a rat. If I was a rat, I could have
been home free 10 years ago."
Harris is known
for his investments in legitimate entertainment ventures, most notably as the
producer of Denzel Washington’s 1987 Broadway play debut, Checkmates.
The DEA convicted
Harris of running an international drug operation that helped link Los Angeles
street gangs to a Columbian cocaine cartel as well as the kidnapping and attempted
murder of a member of his organization.
He was sentenced
to 28 years in prison.
Harry O’s wife
Lydia Harris filed a lawsuit against Knight and in March of 2005, Knight was
ordered to pay Mrs. Harris $106 million dollars.
Mrs. Harris was
awarded the judgment because Knight failed to respond to legal inquires about
the case and missed various court dates.