A Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued an arrest warrant Friday for Marion "Suge" Knight, co-founder and chief executive officer of Death Row Records, the multimillion-dollar rap enterprise.
Judge John Ouderkirk issued the warrant after being told by a probation officer that Knight had failed to appear for drug tests and "may have left the United States without permission."
Knight was sentenced in May 1995 to probation in connection with an assault on two aspiring rappers in a Hollywood recording studio. Among the conditions of the probation were that he be tested for drug use and notify a probation officer before leaving the country.
In his order Friday, issued after receiving a phone call from the Probation Department, Ouderkirk indicated that he would recall the warrant if Knight appears at a hearing Tuesday in his court.
Encino attorney David Kenner said Friday that Knight will appear for the hearing. Asked where Knight is, he said, "He's here," meaning the United States. As for the warrant, he said, "It's a case of miscommunication."
The warrant marks the latest in ongoing legal troubles for Knight, a former defensive lineman for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, football team and a former music publisher who co-founded Death Row Records in 1992 with Dr. Dre. The gangsta rap star, whose real name is Andre Young, has since formed his own company, Aftermath Entertainment.
Death Row was the first rap label to consistently dominate the pop charts. But some of its stars and executives have been associated with violent incidents.
Rapper Snoop Doggy Dog, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, was acquitted of murder charges earlier this year in Los Angeles Superior Court. On Sept. 7, rapper Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas in a car driven by Knight.
Months before Shakur was shot and fatally wounded, the FBI had launched a probe of Death Row for possible links to street gangs and drug trafficking.
Knight, meanwhile, remains on three years' probation in a separate weapons case in federal court. A hearing is scheduled for later this month in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on allegations that he violated that probation by testing positive this summer for marijuana use.
In the state case before Ouderkirk, Knight got a suspended prison sentence of nine years and five years' probation after pleading no contest to two counts of assault stemming from the July 13, 1992, incident.
On Aug. 19, Ouderkirk said in court that he had received a report that Knight had tested positive for marijuana use. Even though Knight is supposed to be undergoing drug testing by federal probation agents, Ouderkirk ordered that he submit to tests by the county Probation Department too.
In a hearing Oct. 3, Ouderkirk reiterated his order. He also indicated that Knight had little room for missteps. "He's going to test just like every other person who is on probation," the judge said, according to a transcript. "He's been given many breaks already."