Suge Knight Released, Must Do Anti-Gang Community Service

Rap mogul was jailed in December for parole violation.

Suge Knight is back in his own home for the first time in two months.

Knight, who was jailed without bail in December for violating his parole, won his release on Tuesday from a California state prison board. Four charges were dismissed, one was upheld, and Knight has been ordered to complete 200 hours of anti-gang community service. He could have received up to a year in prison.

"Based on the weight of the charge, we felt he served his time with the 62 days he was in custody," said Bill Sessa, a spokesperson for the California Board of Prison Terms.

Knight's camp is happy with the results. "We were able to show that Suge didn't knowingly violate the terms of his parole," his attorney, David Chesnoff, said. "We're extremely pleased that he was given a fair hearing and was able to speak in opposition to the accusations that were made. He's excited to go back to work."

The rap mogul, who co-founded Death Row Records (now Tha Row,) received probation in 1992 for weapons and assault charges. He was found guilty of breaking that probation in 1996 after security cameras in a Las Vegas casino showed him committing an assault. Knight served nearly five years for the violation.

Part of his parole agreement forbids him from socializing with anyone associated with a gang. Knight defied that term, Sessa said, when he was seen fraternizing away from Tha Row's office with a label employee who is linked to gang activity (see "Suge Knight Arrested, Charged With Violating Parole").

"He's allowed to spend time with this guy," said Sessa, "but not outside work."

It's the only charge against Knight that was not dropped. Other charges alleged that Knight violated parole when he hired drivers and bodyguards who had not been checked by state authorities and when he moved to a new home without notifying the parole board.

According to Chesnoff, he and Knight will be meeting with the parole board to make sure Knight understands the conditions of his parole in order to help him avoid further violations. "We plan on defining exactly who is acceptable for Suge to associate with and who is unacceptable," Chesnoff said.

Sessa, however, said Knight's parole is already clear on who he can't associate with, "so I don't know of any plans to meet for that reason."

Chesnoff said Knight had already been doing volunteer work and is happy to do the additional service that the parole board ordered. Knight will be participating in a mentoring program that tries to steer kids clear of gangs.

"He's going to speak about his personal experience to large groups of kids," the lawyer said. "Suge is a college grad. He was a college football player. He was an honorable mention scholar. He has leadership skills that stretch far beyond his career in the music industry, and he's excited to use them."