A federal jury found Prakazrel “Pras” Michel guilty of 10 criminal counts in April of this year. The Fugees MC hopes to get a new trial in the conspiracy case.
The United States government accused Pras of conspiring with Malaysian national Low Taek Jho (aka Jho Low) and others to orchestrate an unregistered, back-channel campaign for the Vice Minister of Public Security for the People’s Republic of China.
“Mr. Michel sought to use his celebrity and access to influence U.S. government officials on behalf of undisclosed foreign interests,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
Additionally, Olsen stated, “This is an affront to the rule of law, and we will use the full range of tools at our disposal to hold accountable those who would covertly aid foreign actors seeking to interfere with our democratic system of government.”
The feds alleged that Pras personally submitted a false declaration to the FEC in order to commit money laundering and to make false statements to financial institutions. Prosecutors also argued that the Brooklyn-born rapper allegedly attempted to cause witnesses to make false statements and he withheld information from law enforcement officials about the scheme.
Pras Wants A New Trial With A New Attorney
However, Pras claimed his attorney at the time, David Kenner, damaged his case by using experimental artificial intelligence to write parts of his closing statement for the trial. The Ghetto Supastar album creator has reportedly hired Peter Zeidenberg as his new lawyer.
“I trust the process,” Pras told Billboard about his pending legal situation while backstage at the Los Angeles stop of the Lauryn Hill and Fugees’ reunion tour. He also added, “Obviously there’s been a little bit of progress, so we’ll see what happens.”
Michel was convicted of conspiracy, concealment of material facts, making false entries in records, witness tampering, and serving as an unregistered agent of a foreign power. He faces 20 years in federal prison on the top counts.
Lauryn Hill announced “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 25th Anniversary Tour” with fellow Fugees members Pras and Wyclef Jean in August. The LA edition of the North American trek included surprise appearances by Lil Wayne and Nas.