Rap music mogul Suge Knight testified Friday that his Death Row Records struggled after he was jailed several times and hit with a $107 million judgment in a case by a couple claiming they helped start the label.
Knight answered questions about his business at a federal bankruptcy hearing intended to give his creditors a chance to ask about his assets and his debts of more than $100 million.
Testifying in a near mumble, Knight told a bankruptcy trustee that his incarceration handicapped the label that had topped the charts in the 1990s with artists such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.
Asked how he knew the company was struggling while he was behind bars, Knight answered, “The magazines told me that and the records,” referring to releases by the label.
Knight didn’t answer a number of questions and repeatedly conferred with an accountant. He said he had never seen a profit and loss statement but had reviewed income tax returns.
Knight said he decided to close the doors of Death Row after the judgment was issued against him and he lost a lease.
Knight has a history of legal problems. He was convicted of assault in 1992 and placed on probation, then jailed for five years in 1996 for violating that probation.
He was returned to jail in 2003 for again violating parole, this time by punching a parking attendant at a Hollywood nightclub. He was released the next year.
Knight’s decision to file for bankruptcy protection on April 4 staved off a move by the court to appoint someone to take control of the record label and his assets. He also avoided a criminal contempt citation for failing to show up at state court hearings.
The federal filing halted the state court action in which former couple Lydia and Michael Harris are trying to collect a $107 million judgment from Knight. They claim they helped found Death Row.
Michael Harris, an imprisoned drug dealer serving a 28-year sentence at San Quentin Prison, is claiming half of the $107 million as community property in his divorce from Lydia Harris.