Marion "Suge" Knight will be having Christmas dinner behind bars this year. The head of gangsta rap label Tha Row was arrested Monday afternoon for allegedly violating parole and is being held in Los Angeles County Jail.
Knight was picked up by officers from the California Department of Corrections and investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. According to Fernando Rios, a representative for California's State Parole Board, Knight was arrested for four violations:
- Establishing or relocating to a residence other than the one registered with his parole officer. One of the conditions of Knight's parole is that he must register his residence with his parole officer. But according to Rios, the parole board has information from other law enforcement agencies that Knight had purchased and was residing in another unregistered home.
- Failing to clear a newly employed security guard or driver. Knight is required to clear with his parole officer the hiring of any bodyguards or personal drivers in order to prevent him from hiring someone with a criminal background and giving them a position in which they could get a license to carry a firearm.
- Associating with a known gang member as well as associating with a group of known gang members (two counts). When any reputed gang member is released from prison, it is a common condition of parole to prohibit that person from associating with other gang members. According to Rios, the state parole office has photos and other documentation showing that Knight had consorted with a gang member named Tim McDonald as well as other gang members.
Though Knight's lawyer, David Z. Chesnoff, didn't know the specifics of the violation charges, he said that if Knight was associated with any gang members, it was strictly for reasons related to the music business.
"If these charges are true and Suge did associate with gang members," he asked, "how could [the authorities] expect Suge to proceed with his work in the music world without coming into contact with possible gang members? He would have to lock himself in a closet."
Chesnoff also contends that he and Knight met with parole officers after his release and that officers agreed Knight may be allowed leniency because of the nature of his work. Rios denied the claim, insisting, "We would not have agreed to that. And the evidence that we have shows that when Mr. Knight was with these gang members, it was definitely not in the course of business. He was at parties and in different locations."
Since Knight is being charged with parole violations, as opposed to regular criminal charges, he is not allowed bail and had not been allowed to speak to Chesnoff as of Tuesday morning. Knight will be incarcerated until he goes before the California Board of Prison Terms, the state's parole authority, which may not happen for 30 to 40 days. At that time, the board will either revoke Knight's parole or dismiss the charges.
According to Chesnoff, since Knight's release in August 2001 he has done nothing but try to get his life back in order and work on his music company.
Knight received probation in 1992 for weapons and assault charges; he was found guilty of violating that probation in 1996 when security cameras at a Las Vegas casino captured him participating in a beating just hours before Tupac Shakur was murdered. Last month sheriff's deputies raided Knight's business and homes in connection with a murder investigation (see "Deputies Raid Tha Row's Offices, Suge Knight's Homes").