It’s not homicide authorities are investigating over at the rap label formerly known as Murder Inc.
Instead, federal investigators are slowly putting the pieces together of an alleged dirty-money operation-with some big names in the rap world involved.
On Wednesday, cops arrested the manager of the label’s flagship rapper, Ja Rule. Ron “Gutta” Robinson, 29, was rung up on money-laundering charges in federal court and released on $500,000 bond.
The 29-year-old’s legal rep, Stacey Richman, told the Associated Press her client would fight the charges against him.
The indictment specifically alleges Robinson conspired to launder more than $1 million between 1997 and 2002. Per the indictment, Robinson “knew and believed that some of the laundered funds were the proceeds of…a controlled substance.”
This is not the first time shady dealings have sprung up around Irv Gotti’s rap label.
Last week, a bookkeeper at the record company was arrested on similar money-laundering charges.
Back in January of 2003, investigators staged a dramatic early-morning raid on the label’s offices in New York. The feds seized computers and documents as part of a probe to determine whether there were financial ties between Gotti and drug kingpin Kenneth McGriff, the convicted head of a notorious Queens drug gang called the Supreme Team.
The feds have long been interested in Gotti and his involvement with McGriff is common knowledge in the New York hip-hop community. Although Gotti has never officially been charged, investigators believed he used drug money provided by McGriff to finance such projects as the straight-to-video movie
Crime Partners, starring Ja Rule, Snoop Dog and Ice-T. Officials also believe Gotti used tainted seed money to bankroll his label.
Before starting Murder Inc., Gotti served as an A&R rep for Def Jam Records, where he helped sign Jay-Z.
The imprint, now part of the Island Def Jam consortium under Universal music, formallly changed its name to The Inc. earlier this year in an effort to clean up the label’s image.
Meanwhile, Rule found himself in bit of trouble recently.
Rule will stand trial next year in Canada for an alleged assault in a Toronto nightclub.
His latest release, R.U.L.E., dropped last week and moved 165,000 copies to debut at seven on the new Billboard 200, a career low for the rapper.