Pras Michel‘s conspiracy trial begins today in Washington, D.C.
Jury selection in Pras Michel‘s conspiracy trial began on Monday (March 27) in Washington, D.C. The former Fugees member faces several charges including conspiracy, witness tampering and failing to register as an agent of China, according to an NPR report.
Prosecutors alleged that Pras was the middleman for two sets of alleged crimes. The first involved an illegal plan to invite people to attend a fundraiser for Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential campaign and reimburse them $40,000 apiece using foreign sources of money for the cost of the tickets. The embattled musician is accused of threatening people if they report the scheme to authorities.
The second alleged wrongdoing Pras is accused of consists of him creating a secret lobbying campaign to help Malaysian billionaire Jho Low put pressure on American justice officials and White House officials when his fraud scheme unraveled and to help the Chinese government “secure the return” of a dissident who was living inside the U.S. and developing close ties with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
“The defendant, Prakazrel Michel, received over $100 million from Jho Low, a foreign fugitive responsible for one of the largest embezzlement schemes in history, to use backchannel influence to convince the then-President of the United States to drop a federal investigation into Low and to agree to the extrajudicial removal of a Chinese exile living in the United States,” wrote prosecutors John Keller, Sean Mulryne and Nicole Lockhart.
Low is reportedly a fugitive from justice and believed to be living in China with his family, so the 50-year-old rhymer is standing trial on his own.
According to his defense, Pras believed he was acting in the interests of the United States when he met with a Chinese minister at the Four Seasons hotel in New York in 2017.
“Defendant continues to deny he was acting as an agent for China and denies he willfully and knowingly acted as a secret agent under the direction and control of China when he approached the FBI,” defense lawyers David Kenner and Charles Haskell stated in court documents this month.
XXL has reached out to Pras‘ attorney David Kenner for comment.
The New York Post reports that in 2019, the feds offered Pras a plea deal. This consisted of him pleading guilty, and authorities returning a small amount of the $74 million they seized from his bank accounts in 2018. However, Pras declined the offer.
If convicted on all charges, Pras Michel faces 22 years in prison.
See 44 of the Longest Prison Bids in Hip-Hop History
C-Murder, Max B, B.G. and more.