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Rap mogul 'Suge' Knight files for bankruptcy

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, Apr 5 (Reuters) Marion ''Suge'' Knight and his Death Row Records filed for bankruptcy, hours before the rap mogul was expected to lose control of his label in a 107 million dollar civil court judgment.

By seeking bankruptcy protection, Knight, who co-founded Death Row in the 1990s and helped launch the careers of Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur, forestalled a court order that would have handed control of the label to a special court officer known as a receiver.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian issued the order after finding Knight had failed to make good on the 7 million judgment obtained last March by Lydia Harris, who claimed he cheated her out of a 50 per cent stake in Death Row.

''He has no choice, the way these people have forced his hand,'' said Knight's new lawyer, Laurence Strick. He said he expected the rap kingpin to get a fairer shake in federal bankruptcy court than in state court.

Two weeks ago, Sohigian said he would appoint the receiver unless Knight fully disclosed his finances in a debtor's exam set for April 1. Sohigian said Knight could then petition the court to remove the receiver.

After the rap impresario failed to show up for the exam on Saturday, lawyers for Harris and her ex-husband, Michael Harris, filed a petition seeking the receiver and asking that Knight be found in contempt of court.

Sohigian, after a nearly daylong hearing, declined to find Knight in contempt.

Attorneys for Harris and her ex-husband yesterday said that while the latest legal maneuver would delay their collecting on the judgment, they expected Knight to ultimately be forced by a federal judge to make good on his debt.

''I think the 107 million dollar, plus interest, is going to get paid,'' said Michael Harris' attorney, Steven Goldberg. ''It's not going to be easy, but we're going to get him.'' Plaintiffs' attorneys say Knight, 40, who saw his rap empire wither while he served two stints in prison since 1996, had spent the past year ''playing games'' in court to avoid paying the judgment.

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