2005_11_murderinctrial.jpgThe Murder Inc. drug trial has started, and Ja-Rule and Ashanti, the record label's biggest stars, were on hand to support brothers Irv and Chris Lorenzo, who adopted the last name "Gotti" to be more gangster. Er, gangsta. Is that something in their recording contracts? Perhaps it's just good form, since these are the guys paying them, which is probably why Ja-Rule told reporters that the charges were "bogus" and that the authorities just "don't like hip-hop." Prosectors are trying to connect Murder Inc. with druglord Kenneth McGriff, also known as "Supreme," and that McGriff used Murder Inc. to launder a million dollars (in shoeboxes and garbage bags!).

The prosecutors are saying that Irv Gotti's penchant for gangster life (as the NY Times notes, "He called his recording studio, in SoHo, the Crack House. He named his record label Murder Inc. He even traded in his real name, Irving Lorenzo, for a Mafia fantasy, taking not just the surname of the late John J. Gotti, the Gambino family don, but also welcoming to his legal team one of the gangster's lawyers, Gerald L. Shargel.") made him happy to help out McGriff, while Gotti's lawyer says that it was just "theater," and in fact, his nickname before he took Gotti was "Magoo" after Mr. Chris Gotti's lawyer (the aforementioned Shargel) claims that his client had a lot of money because he was an avid gambler, and apparently scribbled "Says Who?" on a poster and "asked the jurors to remember those words" when they hear testimony from the feds, according to the Daily News. No word on whether or not the defense will play Murder Inc. tracks as exhibits.