Pras Speaks On Facing 22 Years In Prison After Declining Plea Deal
Pras has finally spoken up about the criminal conspiracy and campaign finance charges he now faces after being accused of assisting the Chinese government. During an interview with Rolling Stone, the rapper, née Prakazrel Samuel Michel, detailed his involvement with a Malaysian businessman named Jho Low.
“I was one of those people who was just dabbling. I never thought I would be full-time into politics,” he said of his ensuing political turmoil involving Jho Low. “I realized politics is not for me. The problem with politics is this: It’s that the people within politics, they’re dirtier than the people who are not in politics.”
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The aforementioned associate, whose real name is Low Taek Jho, is a Malaysian national who allegedly divested his country’s sovereign wealth fund of 4.5 billion dollars. Jho used the stolen funds to “buy his way into American social and celebrity circles,” throwing $100 million in funding towards Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Wolf Of Wall Street—as a play to become friends with the latter.
Pras explained that he later discovered Jho’s primary goal of getting in with the U.S. government, hoping to exploit his relationship with then-President Barack Obama to do so.
The first of four charges against the “Ghetto Superstar” accuses him of contributing over $1.1 million of the Malaysian man’s money to Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, but framing it as money from multiple people.
Two other charges stem from Jho using Pras to get closer to the Trump administration, and a supposed fixer who could make the investigation into his embezzlement case disappear.
Michel explained that he was introduced to China’s Vice Minister of Public Security, Sun Lijun, a man attempting to get the U.S. to return a wealthy fugitive billionaire to Chinese authorities.
The rapper admits that he “took one meeting” with Lijun. However, as the conversations continued, he noticed that Sun had technically made it seem like he was operating against the U.S. on China’s behalf.
“What benefit would I get trying to break laws? It’s not worth it to me,” he added. “I’m like a pariah now. I’ve got friends who won’t talk to me because they think there’s a satellite in orbit listening to them.”
His legal drama came to a head in 2019 when Michel, 50, was indicted on four criminal charges for the donations. He expressed to the outlet that he turned down the prosecutor’s plea deal, maintaining his stance that he hadn’t broken any laws. The plea deal involved eliminating the charges and the U.S. government returning “some” of the $74 million they seized from several of his bank accounts.
As a direct result of the songwriter declining the plea deal, Pras was then issued “a superseding indictment that added eight more criminal charges, including bank fraud, concealment of material facts, witness tampering, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and working as an unregistered agent of the People’s Republic of China.”
Furthermore, the Goldman Sachs bankers who admitted to assisting Low Taek Jho in transferring his money, and Frank White, Jr., President Obama’s former chairman of his reelection campaign, have decided to testify against the NYC native during the forthcoming trial.
Pras’ money laundering trial is set to commence on March 27, 2023. According to Business Insider, the Fugee’s producer allegedly received between $8 million and $40 million for his part in the laundering conspiracy. If Michel is found guilty on all counts, he could be imprisoned for 22 years.