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Former Attorney for Fugees papper, Pras Michel, faces probation, fine for contempt of court

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David Kenner, an 82-year-old former attorney for Fugees rapper Pras Michel, was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and fined for contempt of court.

The sentencing came after Kenner admitted to violating a court order by sharing protected discovery material with reporters in the lead-up to Michel’s 2023 trial. Kenner reached a plea deal with prosecutors, avoiding jail time but agreeing to a one-year probationary period and a fine.

During a virtual hearing on Friday, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta initially expressed reservations about the deal, emphasizing the importance of sending the right signal to lawyers bound by protective orders. However, after negotiations, Mehta accepted the agreement with the provision that he retained the authority to impose a maximum fine of $5,000. Mehta remarked that the fine, while symbolic, holds significance.

Kenner’s attorney, Barrett Boss, did not contest the $5,000 fine but highlighted that Kenner had personally spent $1.4 million on expenses related to Michel’s defense. Kenner, appearing virtually from his California office, characterized the conviction as a “low point” in his 56-year career, expressing remorse and accepting responsibility for his “reckless” conduct.

Michel had severed ties with Kenner following his April 2023 conviction on 10 felony counts related to his association with a Malaysian billionaire accused of embezzling billions from the country’s sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB. Michel faced charges such as acting as an unregistered foreign agent of China, conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions, and witness intimidation. The judge in Michel’s case is currently reviewing a motion for a new trial, alleging that Kenner mishandled the defense, including the use of AI to generate the closing argument.

Kenner’s sentence follows a series of articles by Bloomberg, published almost 11 months ago, revealing grand jury materials and nonpublic information protected by a court order. Kenner had shared this information with reporters investigating Michel’s case. Despite having the reporters sign a protective order, they later disregarded it, prompting Kenner’s acknowledgment of recklessness in not terminating their access after they indicated non-compliance with the order’s terms.

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