Rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, a former member of the hip-hop group Fugees, appeared in federal court Thursday for a status hearing in a money laundering and corruption case involving campaign contributions in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
A four-count indictment alleges that Michel, a Haitian American musician who sold millions of albums in the 1990s as part of the Fugees, conspired with a fugitive Malaysian financier, Low Taek Jho, to defraud the U.S. government by moving more than $21 million in overseas funds and funneling a portion into the election.
Similar to his initial appearing in May, Michel again asked whether he could skip having to appear at routine court appearances to focus on a new album and tour. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly denied his request.
After his initial appearance in May, at which he pleaded not guilty, Michel said outside the courthouse that “I feel I’m totally innocent” and that he would not consider a plea deal were one to be offered.
Michel is accused of paying about $865,000 to 20 donors so they could contribute to a presidential fundraising committee and hide the source of the overseas money. Prosecutors also allege that he directed more than $1 million to a different expenditure committee. The commitees were not named.
Michel’s attorney, Barry Pollack, asked the judge whether his client needed to appear in court for the next hearing — set for Nov. 8 — on the status of the case. He would be happy to videoconference, Pollack said, but will probably be on tour for his album at that time.
“I think he should be here,” Kollar-Kotelly said.