WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 03: Pras Michel, a member of the 1990's hip-hop group the Fugees, arrives at U.S. District Court on April 3, 2023 in Washington, DC. Michel is on trial for his alleged participation in a campaign finance conspiracy. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Ex-Fugees Rapper Pras Michel Found Guilty on Conspiracy Charges
Prakazrel "Pras" Michel was found guilty in federal court on 10 criminal counts, ranging from conspiracy to failing to register as an agent of China.
Ex-Fugees rapper Pras Michelwas found guilty in federal court on Wednesday (April 26th) on 10 criminal counts that range from conspiracy to failure to register as an agent of China.
In a complicated case that covers over a decade, Pras, who's real name is Prakazrel Michel, was accused of trying to help Malaysian businessman Jho Low and the Chinese government gain access to the highest chambers of the United States government, including two former presidents — Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
At the center of the trial was payments Michel received from Low. In testimony that occurred last week, Michael said Low paid him $20 million in 2012 in order to get a picture of himself with Obama. Prosecutors claim that $800,000 of that money was then funneled to Obama's campaign through straw donors.
According to the defense, Michael had no ill intent: he claims he was just trying to make himself some money and had received poor legal advice on the matter. Michael also said Low never gave him direction with how to spend the money.
“I could have bought 12 elephants with it,” he told the jury.
According to prosecutors, When Trump became president, Michel took $100 million and tried to play a middleman role in stopping an investigation into a money laundering and bribery scheme Low was allegedly the mastermind behind. (Low, who is a fugitive, claims he is innocent.)
Prosecutors also say Michel advocated for the extradition of a Chinese dissident, billionaire businessman Guo Wengui, on behalf of the Chinese government.
During his testimony, Michel claims he only tried to help Low find an attorney in the US and that the $100 million was for a media business he was launching; he also said he told authorities about Guo because he thought he was a criminal.
The trial, which started last month, was one of the more interesting ones in recent memory. It featured claims from Michael that he was an FBI informant to testimony from Leonardo Dicaprio. (Low helped fund the 2012 film Wolf of Wall street.)
After the verdict was read, Michael's lawyer David Kenner responded, saying: “This is not over... I remain very, very confident we will ultimately prevail.”
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