Murder Inc mogul Irv Gotti may have named his hip-hop empire after a vintage crime syndicate, and himself after a notorious crime boss, but is it all just a pose, or does his company really have criminal ties? That's what federal investigators wonder, according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper reports that feds raided the company's Manhattan office on Friday as part of a probe into whether Murder Inc has financial ties, including possible money laundering, to convicted drug dealer Kenneth McGriff.
According to the New York Times, the investigative task force, made up of members of a half-dozen federal agencies and the New York Police Department, seized computers and documents from the Murder Inc office. Officials close to the investigation told the New York Times that they were trying to determine whether McGriff provided the seed money that helped Gotti (né Irving Lorenzo) set up the record imprint that has made stars of Ja Rule and Ashanti. ''We're still trying to put them together,'' one official told the Times. ''That's the main question we're asking: did McGriff fund Gotti?''
McGriff, who was arrested in 1988 and served 10 years in prison on federal narcotics conspiracy charges, does have creative ties to Gotti; he cowrote and produced a Murder Inc project, a movie called ''Crime Partners 2000'' that has not been released in the U.S. and whose stars include Murder Inc musicians Ja Rule and Charli Baltimore. McGriff was arrested last month in Miami on charges of firing weapons at shooting ranges, which would violate his parole.
Gotti has not been charged with a crime. Neither Gotti nor spokespersons from Murder Inc or parent label Def Jam have responded to requests from various media outlets for comments. McGriff's lawyer, Robert Giampa, told the New York Times that he was aware of the probe and said, ''We don't believe it has any merit, and we are unaware of any substantive evidence they have against Mr. McGriff at this time.''