The Grammy-winning Fugees artist faces 22 years behind bars if convicted at trial, which started on Monday (March 27).
Pras (real name Prakazrel Michel) is currently on the hook for one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States government, failing to register as an agent of China and witness tampering charges, per the New York Post.
The 50-year-old is being accused of helping facilitate two primary alleged crimes, one of which saw him set up a Barack Obama 2012 presidential campaign fundraiser where he would reimburse attendees $40,000 each using his foreign connections to financial resources.
According toNPR, Pras is accused of allegedly lobbying to help Malaysian billionaire Jho Low by pressuring American judicial officials and government figures when Low’s finance scheme went south.
Prosecutors also believe he was a middleman after being asked to help the Chinese government with the secure return of a “dissident” living in the U.S. who had ties to Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
“The defendant, Prakazrel Michel, received over $100 million from Jho Low, a foreign fugitive responsible for one of the largest embezzlement schemes in history, to use backchannel influence to convince the then-President of the United States to drop a federal investigation into Low and to agree to the extrajudicial removal of a Chinese exile living in the United States,” prosecutors wrote.
Pras’ attorneys reportedly attempted to subpoena both Trump and Obama as well as high-profile citizens such as former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Ben Carson and Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn.
However, U.S. Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly squashed the idea of any celebrity appearances after the subpoena request was denied.
The Postpreviously reported in 2019 that Pras declined U.S. prosecutors’ offer of a deal that involved him pleading guilty and in return, a small portion of the $74 million seized from his bank accounts would be given back.