Fugees musician Pras Michel convicted of political conspiracy 2023

After a trial that included testimony from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jeff Sessions, a Fugees rapper was convicted Wednesday of multimillion-dollar political plots spanning two presidencies.

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel was accused of funneling money from a now-fugitive Malaysian financier through straw donors to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, then trying to squelch a Justice Department investigation and influence an extradition case for China under the Trump administration.

A federal jury found him guilty of all 10 counts, including conspiracy and unregistered foreign agent.

The defense claimed the Grammy-winning rapper from the 1990s hip-hop group the Fugees sought to earn money and received inadequate legal counsel as he reinvented himself in politics.

Michel declined to speak after the judgment, but his attorney said he was “extremely disappointed” and will appeal.

“This is not over,” attorney David Kenner warned. “I’m sure we’ll win.”

In 2006, Michel met Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, who was spending millions and partying with Paris Hilton. Low financed “The Wolf of Wall Street.” DiCaprio said Low was a respectable businessman who wanted to donate to Obama’s campaign.

Michel defended himself. He stated Low would pay millions for a 2012 Obama photo. Michel helped and paid friends to attend fundraising events. He says nobody warned him that was illegal.

Prosecutors said Michel donated the money on Low’s behalf and tried to lean on straw donors using burner phone texts to dissuade them from talking to investigators.

After Donald Trump’s election, prosecutors believe Michel again collected millions to stop an inquiry into Low’s alleged money laundering and bribery plot to steal billions from 1MDB. Low, a worldwide fugitive, claims innocence.

Prosecutors alleged Michel was paid to push the U.S. to extradite a government critic accused of crimes in China without registering as a foreign agent.

Sessions, Trump’s top law enforcement official until 2018, testified for the defense on that claim. Sessions said he knew the Chinese government sought the extradition but not Michel. The former attorney general concluded the rapper’s failed attempts to organize a meeting on the matter weren’t unlawful.

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