Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff faces the death penalty in the case, which began in federal court in Brooklyn Jan. 10.McGriff presided over the "Supreme Team," a drug gang that ruled the streets of southeast Queens throughout the 1980s, when the crack epidemic was ravaging urban neighborhoods across the United States. McGriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison on drug charges in 1989. Upon his release from jail, McGriff helped finance Murder Inc. Records along with southeast Queens brothers Irving and Christopher Lorenzo (also known as Irv and Christopher Gotti), both of Hollis.In 2005, the Lorenzo brothers were charged with laundering money through their record label on behalf of McGriff, but they were both acquitted after a three-week trial that featured court appearances by rappers Ja Rule and Russell Simmons.The current case against McGriff stems largely from the murders of Troy Singelton and Eric Smith, an aspiring rapper know as "E. Money Bags."Smith was shot in July 2001 in Laurelton, while Singelton was killed in October 2001 in Jamaica. Both were alleged enemies of McGriff, who was arraigned in February 2006.The actual gunmen in the cases have not been indicted, but McGriff is charged with arranging their murders, according to court documents.The indictment against McGriff charges that he allegedly conspired to have Smith killed for almost two years - from December 1999 until July 2001.In addition to the murder charges, McGriff is accused of running a criminal enterprise, with a stash house in Maryland, that distributed heroin, cocaine and crack. Following McGriff's arraignment last February, it was unclear if he would face the death penalty and prosecutors were reportedly waiting for a final decision on the matter from U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. According to court documents, prosecutors filed papers indicating their intent to seek the death penalty in March 2006.Court documents also indicate that reporters are seeking access to a videotape of Smith made shortly before this death. A letter entered into the court record recently asks the United States Eastern District Judge Frederick Block to make a copy of the video available to the media "after it has been entered into evidence."Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at news@times
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