Rap-music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight has filed a $106-million federal fraud, conspiracy and racketeering lawsuit against a drug dealer he claims tried to extort money from him to curry favor with authorities.
The suit was filed Thursday against Michael Harris, who is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison for narcotics distribution and attempted murder.
Harris claims he provided more than $1.5 million in seed money from behind bars in 1991 to start Knight's Death Row Records a claim the rap entrepreneur has repeatedly and vehemently denied.
Knight's attorney, Dermot Givens, said Friday that Harris was a federal informant who concocted "a scheme to blackmail various entertainment industry entities" by threatening to sue over his alleged drug money investments.
"There was an effort to silence rap music and specifically Suge Knight, who was its icon," Givens said.
The suit claims that Harris and others, including attorneys David Casselman and Steven Goldberg, were behind a lawsuit filed by Harris's wife that led last year to a $107-million judgment against the rap entrepreneur.
Givens said she agreed to settle several months later for $1 million and certain rights to use Death Row music.
Goldberg said the judgment still stands and called Knight's lawsuit "a last-ditch gasp" to avoid paying.