KENNETH MCGRIFF: (CONTINUED)

By Christopher Zoukis

In December 1999, Supreme and one of his associates, Colbert ‘Black Just’ Johnson, were in Southeast Queens, where they ran into Eric ‘E Money Bags’ Smith.  Smith was a gangbanger, who was a wanna-be Rapper.  Smith confronted Black Just about some money Black Just owed him.  Tempers flared and Smith pulled a gun, shooting Black Just in the leg.  Supreme dragged Black Just into his SUV and took off.  Because he didn’t want to be implicated in a shooting, Supreme simply drove around.  He didn’t know what to do.  As he tried to figure a way out of the situation, Black Just died.  Finally, Supreme dumped the body at the Southeast Queens Hospital.  Then he drove off.  Colbert 'Black Just' Johnson / Photo courtesy vibe.com

Meanwhile, the Rapper known as 50 Cent put out a song called Ghetto Qu’ran.  The song celebrated the street hustling exploits of Supreme.  Only Supreme didn’t see it as flattery.  He saw it as “dry snitching.”  Angry words and accusations were exchanged, leaving only bad blood between Supreme and 50 Cent.  The Source magazine described 50 Cent as “a snitch.”

On May 24, 2000, 50 Cent sat in a car in front of his grandmother’s house in South Jamaica.  Another car pulled up beside 50 Cent’s car.  The man inside the car pointed a gun at 50 Cent and opened fire.   The man fired nine shots.  All nine shots hit home.  The gunman’s car squealed away.

Somehow 50 Cent drove himself to the hospital.  Except for a hole in the side of his jaw and a piece of bullet in his tongue, 50 Cent made a full recovery.  The police and the feds began an investigation.  Supreme’s name came up and he was considered a suspect.

Then on July 16, 2001, E Money Bags – who had shot Black Just in the leg – was sitting in his Navigator in Queens Village.  A black Mercedes pulled up next to the Navigator.  Inside the Mercedes were four men wearing white gloves.  The men opened fire on the Navigator, riddling the vehicle with bullets.  E Money Bags died from ten 9mm bullets.  Over 40 rounds pierced the Navigator, according to the forensic experts.

The feds put surveillance on Supreme, who they considered a prime suspect.

At the beginning of August 2001, Supreme was driving his BMW through Harlem, when he was pulled over by the police.  Supreme gave his name as Lee Tuten and told the officers he was an executive record producer for Def Jam.  The police searched the BMW and found a loaded pistol and $11,000 cash.  Supreme was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon.

The gun was traced by the BATF.  The owner was a relative of Irv Gotti.  Which meant the feds now took an interest in Gotti and Murder Inc.  The feds started sniffing around.

In the next three months, more dead bodies showed up.  On August 20, 2001 Karon Clarret and Dwayne Thomas were found murdered in Owings Mill, Maryland.  It later came out that Clarret was cooperating with law enforcement officials.  Then in October 2001, Troy Singleton, who was the business partner of E Money Bags, was executed gangland style outside a sports bar – Club Van Wyck—in South Jamaica. 

The feds were pretty sure that Supreme was up to his neck in drug trafficking and the recent murders.  They decided to make darn sure.  In January 2002, the FBI began investigating Supreme’s connection to Murder Inc. and Irv Gotti.  FBI agents suspected Supreme was working for Murder Inc. as an enforcer.  In return, Murder Inc. was laundering drug money for Supreme.  In other words, the whole thing was a criminal organization.

In the fall of 2002, Supreme went to court for the 2001 Harlem weapon possession charge, the one where he said his name was Lee Tuten.  He pled guilty.  Sentencing was scheduled to take place in January 2003.  Until then, Supreme was out on bail.  Irv Gotti decided Supreme deserved one last hurrah before going to prison.  So Gotti sent Supreme to visit his cousin – Prince – who was now in USP Beaumont.  After he saw his nephew, Supreme split.  He knew the feds were keeping close tabs on him.  He wasn’t going back to be sentenced.  Instead, he fled to Miami, Florida.  A law enforcement official told the Associated Press, “All wiretap activity stopped and he disappeared.”

But the feds were smarter than Supreme.  They caught up with him at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach, where he was registered under the name of Rick Coleman.  When the feds arrested him, Supreme had a Murder Inc. pager on him, along with Viagra and Ecstasy.  Taken together, the two drugs were known to Hip-hoppers as “rocking and rolling.”

The feds hit Supreme with more charges of weapons possession.  For they had evidence he had made numerous visits to a Maryland shooting range in 2000.  While at the range, Supreme had practiced with pistols and machine guns.  A definite no-no for convicted felons. 

While Supreme sat in a Baltimore jail, the feds raided Murder Inc.’s offices and the homes of the Gotti brothers, along with the home of their accountant.  In an affidavit filed with the U.S. Attorney in New York, the IRS stated that Supreme was the “true owner of the company,” and had provided the funds – drug money – with which Murder Inc. had been started. 

In an attempt to distance himself from the allegations, Irv Gotti changed Murder Inc.’s name to The Inc.  It didn’t work.  The feds discovered evidence that the Gotti brothers were laundering drug money through two of their subsidiary companies – IG Records and MI Records.  In 2004, the feds indicted Cynthia Brent, who was Murder Inc.’s accountant, on charges of money laundering.  Brent began cooperating with the feds.

The feds, on January 26, 2005, unveiled a 37-page, 13-count indictment charging nine people and two corporations with racketeering, trafficking in cocaine, heroin and crack, money laundering and murder.  FBI agent Fred Snelling said, “They don’t call it gangsta’ rap for nothing.” 

The indictment stated that Supreme was responsible for multiple Mafia-style executions, and the trafficking of cocaine and heroin.  A total of nine murders were laid at Supreme’s doorstep.  The feds asked for the death penalty.  The Gotti brothers and Murder Inc. were charged with money-laundering.

As the trial got closer, the Gotti brothers decided to distance themselves from Supreme.  Their attorney filed a motion requesting the money-laundering charges be severed from Supreme’s murder and racketeering charges.  What it came down to was this:  the Gotti brothers didn’t want jurors hearing about murders during their trial for money laundering.  Money laundering was one thing.  Murder was in a whole different league.  The Gotti brothers wanted nothing to do with murder or with Supreme.

Judge Edward Korman granted the severance motion.  On December 2, 2005, the Gotti brothers were acquitted of money laundering. 

Supreme was flat out of luck.  He’d burnt too many bridges and made too many enemies.  Snitches came out of the woodwork.  Emmanual ‘Manny Dog’ Mosely testified that Supreme paid him $50,000 to kill Troy Singleton and E Money Bags.  Barry ‘Mungo’ Broughton, Alvin Smiley and Climente Jordon – who were the other three men wearing white gloves in the Mercedes – also testified against Supreme. 

Supreme’s attorney argued there were no fingerprints, no eyewitnesses, no DNA, no firearm matches, and no ballistics.  The attorney’s arguments were a waste of breath.   The feds had fingerprints from the stash houses and the testimony of the men Supreme paid to commit murder.

On February 1, 2007, the jury began its deliberations.  After only two hours, they found Supreme guilty of murder, conspiracy to murder and drug dealing.  The penalty phase of the trial took place one week later.  On February 10, 2007, Newsday’s headline read, ‘Ex-Druglord McGriff Gets Life in Prison.’ 

Kenneth ‘Supreme’ McGriff was sentenced to life in prison and shipped off to the Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.  He was 46 years old.