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Hip-Hop Legend Found Guilty Of International Conspiracy For Illegal Campaign Contributions

Hip-hop group Fugees‘ founding member Prakazrel Michel, also known as Pras, has been found guilty in federal court on April 26, 2023, of orchestrating an international conspiracy that used millions of dollars in foreign money for illegal lobbying and campaign contributions, according to the Justice Department. Michel was accused of accepting $865,000 from a Malaysian financier and using it to make campaign contributions to former President Barack Obama in 2012 through a network of straw donors. He was also accused of attempting to convince the Trump administration and the Justice Department to drop federal investigations into the financier related to embezzlement and assisting China in its efforts to have a Chinese dissident brought back to China.

Michel has been convicted of 10 criminal counts, including money laundering, illegal lobbying, witness tampering, and campaign finance violations. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison. The case had several high-profile testimonies from entertainment and political circles, including Leonardo DiCaprio and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Prosecutors argued that Michel was a subservient accomplice to the financier who used him for back-channel dealings in the U.S. Michel’s conviction in U.S. District Court in Washington followed an extensive trial that lasted for several months. According to Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., an assistant attorney general with the Justice Department, the case demonstrates that unlawful foreign-sponsored efforts to influence American officials, elections, or the criminal justice system will lead to justice.

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