Suge Knight is released from jail. The rap mogul will have to perform anti-gang community service

By Gary Susman
Updated February 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Rap mogul Suge Knight, who could have faced a return to prison for another year, was instead released from jail yesterday after serving two months on suspicion of parole violations, Reuters reports. The gangsta rap pioneer, whose label Tha Row (formerly Death Row) has been under investigation for alleged gang ties, had been in the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles for 61 days on five charges of violating his parole by associating with known gang members. After a day-long hearing on Tuesday, however, four of those five charges were dropped, and Knight was given credit for time served on the fifth. He was also ordered to perform 200 hours of anti-gang community service.

Knight served nearly five years on a previous parole violation, the result of his involvement in a fight in a Las Vegas hotel in 1996, hours before Tupac Shakur was fatally shot while riding in Knight’s car. Upon his release in 2001, Knight returned to work, but sheriffs alleged he soon violated his parole by moving to nearby Malibu, hiring drivers and bodyguards whose backgrounds had not been checked by state authorities, and posing in photographs that showed him making gang signs or appearing with gang members.

Knight denied those charges in yesterday’s hearing, saying he had no involvement with gang members except in the course of business at the label, the Los Angeles Times reports. He had hired ex-convicts from his Compton neighborhood to give them a break, and his lawyers said the parole board had approved such contact as long as it didn’t take place outside of work. The one count that was upheld regarded Knight’s driving alleged gang member Timmy McDonald to the hospital to see his brother, Knight associate Alton McDonald, who had been fatally wounded in a shooting last April. ”Mr. Knight was only allowed to associate with Mr. McDonald at work and was not allowed to drive him after work to the hospital,” parole board spokesman Bill Sessa told the Times.

”Suge is thrilled,” Knight’s lawyer, David Chesnoff, told the Times upon his client’s release. “We appreciate the amount of due process that was afforded Mr. Knight. His release lends credibility to the parole system.”