By Michael Kunzelman and Lindsay WhitehurstThe Related Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A outstanding protection legal professional whose star purchasers have included Snoop Dogg pleaded responsible Jan. 26 to leaking grand jury info to reporters a couple of political conspiracy case towards a rapper from the Fugees.
David Kenner, a California-based legal professional identified for his illustration of celebrities like Suge Knight and Tory Lanez, was sentenced to a 12 months of unsupervised probation after pleading responsible to a misdemeanor contempt of court docket cost. He additionally agreed to pay a $5,000 high quality.
Federal prosecutors say Kenner was representing Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, when he gave grand jury info and images to 2 reporters for Bloomberg Information for “defense-oriented” tales that ran in March 2023, shortly earlier than the beginning of the Washington, D.C. trial. Michel’s trial included testimony from such figures as actor Leonardo DiCaprio and former U.S. Lawyer Basic Jeff Classes.
As is typical in prison instances, Kenner had gotten entry to proof with a purpose to put together Michel’s protection, however had been ordered by the court docket to not share the data, prosecutors stated.
Kenner’s legal professional stated in court docket paperwork that the reporters initially agreed to signal a protecting order, however later modified their minds. A Bloomberg Information spokesperson declined to remark.
Kenner, 82, instructed the decide who sentenced him that he was reckless for not taking steps to terminate the reporters’ entry to grand jury info. He described it as a “low level” in his 56-year authorized profession.
“Clearly, I made a horrible mistake,” Kenner stated.
Michel was finally convicted of all 10 counts, together with conspiracy and appearing as an unregistered agent of a international authorities. The Grammy-winning rapper faces as much as 20 years in jail on the highest counts.
Michel is now pushing for a brand new trial within the case. His new legal professional, Peter Zeidenberg, says Kenner made a bunch of errors. That included bungling closing arguments through the use of a synthetic intelligence program.
As soon as touted as the primary use of generative AI in a federal trial, the closing arguments included Kenner misattributing a well-known lyric from a track by the rapper Diddy to the Fugees, in response to court docket paperwork.
The cost to which Kenner pleaded responsible carries a most jail sentence of six months, however U.S. District Decide Amit Mehta stated a time period of imprisonment or house detention wasn’t warranted. His probation time period can be unsupervised beneath the phrases of a plea settlement he struck with prosecutors.
Mehta initially expressed shock that prosecutors agreed to a sentence with out a high quality. Mehta stated a $5,000 high quality — the utmost quantity allowed beneath the statute — could also be a “small however symbolic” addition to the sentence.
L. Barrett Boss, one of many protection attorneys, stated Kenner was planning to retire after Michel’s trial. However Boss stated Kenner is “very strained financially” as a result of he spent $1.4 million “out of pocket” on Michel’s protection.
A spokeswoman for Michel stated the conviction displays a breach of consumer belief. “Whereas Mr. Kenner argues that he was merely making an attempt to mount the very best protection for Pras Michel, his consumer, Mr. Kenner’s reckless actions crossed vital moral traces, failed his duties as counsel, and in the end have value him dearly,” Erica Dumas stated.
Michel was charged with funneling cash from a Malaysian financier to Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection marketing campaign by way of straw donors, then making an attempt to squelch a Justice Division investigation and affect an extradition case on behalf of China beneath the Trump administration.
The financer, Low Taek Jho, additionally helped finance Hollywood movies, together with “The Wolf of Wall Road,” which starred DiCaprio. Jho has since been accused of masterminding a cash laundering and bribery scheme that pilfered billions from the Malaysian state funding fund referred to as 1MDB. He’s now a world fugitive and has maintained his innocence.
Kenner had argued through the trial that Michel merely wished to generate income and acquired dangerous authorized recommendation as he reinvented himself on the planet of politics.
Whitehurst reported from Philadelphia.