A fugitive hip-hop mogul recently linked by a convicted killer to a shooting that wounded Tupac Shakur was arrested Tuesday in a drug case after he was discovered hiding out at a popular Manhattan hotel.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents and deputy U.S. Marshals arrested James Rosemond on charges he ran a lucrative drug-trafficking ring. According to a criminal complaint, the ring smuggled large amounts of cocaine into the New York City area and the proceeds back to Los Angeles in road cases normally used by musicians to transport their instruments and other equipment.
Authorities said Rosemond, 46, had been holed up at the W New York in Union Square under a false name. He was ordered held without bail during a brief appearance Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn.
His attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said his client had been framed.
The charges are "the result of witnesses who have been bribed and threatened by the government to implicate Jimmy in the crimes charged," he said. "It's been a long time coming, but the government wants a fight so we'll give them one."
The arrest follows accusations reported last week by AllHipHop.com that Rosemond — CEO of New York City-based Czar Entertainment — orchestrated the mid-1990s ambush of Shakur outside a Manhattan recording studio.
The allegations were attributed to Dexter Isaac, who is serving a life sentence in an unrelated murder-for-hire plot. The website said he claimed he was paid $2,500 to rob and shoot the legendary rapper.
The complaint unsealed Tuesday makes no reference to the Shakur shooting, and Rosemond's lawyer has denied he had any involvement.
According to the complaint, a joint DEA-Internal Revenue Service probe of Rosemond relied on several cooperating witnesses. They include a Los Angeles dealer who pleaded guilty to charges he supplied more than 100 kilograms to the ring over a two-year period.
The complaint says agents intercepted a phone call last year during which Rosemond fretted about being watched by law enforcement.
"I can't be online no more," it quotes him as saying. "I don't even have a phone with me. I'm going from phone booth to phone booth."
To avoid detection, Rosemond devised a system that avoided using overnight delivery services, the complaint says.
Members of Rosemond's crew instead stashed cocaine in road cases and sent them to New York music studios, the complaint says. The cases were then shipped back to Los Angeles packed with cash.
Last year, agents seized a road case containing $790,000 "packaged in vacuum-sealed plastic in $100,000 bundles," the complaint says. The seizure prompted Rosemond to switch tactics, stashing drugs in hidden compartments in cars that were transported from coast to coast.
Rosemond is behind such hits as Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop" and also represents The Game and Sean Kingston, according his company's website.
Shakur survived the 1994 shooting, but was killed two years later in Las Vegas. The slaying remains unsolved.