SUGE SPEAKS

The rap mogul grants an interview while in jail on alleged parole violations...

MARION ‘SUGE’ KNIGHT has protested his innocence after spending Christmas behind bars on alleged parole violations.

The 37-year-old founder of Death Row Records was taken into custody earlier this week (December 23) after a meeting with his parole officer. He is expected to remain behind bars until a hearing on the issue.

Police sources have alleged he has associated with LA gang members, in breach of his parole terms. But in an interview Knight granted with the LA Times, he claimed any alleged parole violations to be untrue, strongly denying any involvement in the LA gang scene – except when his music dealings require it.

“I ain’t no gangster. I’m too damn old. I’m a grown man trying to run a business,” he said. “The guys who work for me ain’t out wearing rags and gangbanging in the streets. We got families. We got bills. Why don’t they just leave us alone?

“I told parole that if I had to stop dealing with people from the ‘hood, I might as well shut down my business. I can’t just turn my back on the people I came up with. Rap comes from the same place that I did – the ghetto. I’ve had the same employees since I got out of prison and the parole office never said nothing. Why, all of a sudden, on Christmas Eve, do they decide to violate me and haul me away?”

Knight claims the police want information on a string of gang killings over the last year, something he knows nothing about.

He added: “My parole officer asked me to stop by before the holidays, but as I opened the door to his office, this gang investigator was standing there who tells me they plan to put me away for a real long time if I don’t start talking. I told him, ‘You better handcuff me right now. Because I don’t know a thing about it’.”

Knight’s lawyer, David Z. Chesnoff, has maintained his client’s innocence, claiming any personal interaction with alleged gang members is false. Following his arrest, he said: “Mr. Knight has done everything within his power to avoid any kind of trouble and at the same time remain active in the hip-hop recording community. His association with people that the parole board finds objectionable is in all likelihood, if true, directly connected to the music business and nothing else.”

Sheriff’s investigators raided Knight’s Malibu home and the Beverly Hills office of Tha Row Records on November 14 in connection with a pair of unsolved homicides. Knight is not a suspect in the killings, according to police.

Knight was released on parole in August 2001 after serving five years for violating probation on assault charges by getting into a fight in a Las Vegas hotel. The fight happened hours before hip hop star Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting while riding in Knight’s car.