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Murder Inc. Affiliate Runs Afoul of the Culver City Police

June 30, 2003|Chuck Philips

The star of the film "Crime Partners," John Bryant, and his bodyguards were arrested this month during a routine traffic stop at Washington and La Cienega boulevards, police said last week.

On June 13, Culver City police found two loaded handguns in a Cadillac Escalade driven by one of the bodyguards, authorities said. The car apparently was registered to Ja Rule, a star on the Murder Inc. music label.

Murder Inc. is an affiliate of French media giant Vivendi Universal. It is headed by Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo, who is suspected by federal authorities of helping a convicted criminal, Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, use Murder Inc. to launder cash from drug sales.

Lorenzo denies any wrongdoing and says he simply has tried to assist McGriff in going straight by helping him finance "Crime Partners," a low-budget action film.

Police said they arrested Bryant's bodyguards, Hassan Kareem Smith and Juan Bernard, for possession of the loaded handguns. The bodyguards did not have permits to carry the weapons -- neither of which was registered, police said.

Bryant was arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance after officers found four tablets of Ecstasy on him, police said.

Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, was not arrested. Police later released the vehicle to the rap artist, who also appears in "Crime Partners."

Efforts to reach Bryant through Murder Inc. were unsuccessful. Neither Smith nor Bernard could be reached for comment.

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-- Chuck Philips

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