Even when he's not on the scene, Suge Knight just can't stay out of trouble. The Death Row Records head honcho's name came up during an investigation by the Nevada Gaming Control Board into alleged extortion payments by nightlife magnate Sam Nazarian.

The Board was vetting Nazarian, who was attempting to turn his massive success in L.A. into a casino empire, but needed a gaming license to do so. During what was originally expected to be a routine appearance, the Board lived up to its reputation for being extremely thorough.

Nazarian's personal cocaine use was quickly uncovered. He initially said he had long since given up drugs but, after failing a Board-administered test, he admitted he was still using.

Even worse, his ties to convicted felon Derrick "Smokey" Armstrong were uncovered. Armstrong, who calls himself Nazarian’s “fixer,” allegedly quickly turned from friend to extorter, and about $90,000 of the $3 million paid to Armstrong and his associates ended up in Suge Knight's hands for reasons that are unclear at press time.

Knight had no comment on the situation, but his friend, entertainment producer Mark Blankenship, called the accusation "a form of profiling and racism."

Things do not look good for Suge, though. Another person accused of receiving extortion money in the scandal is Hai Waknine, who is a convicted racketeer with a long criminal history dating back to his teens.

In light of all of the chaos, Nazarian has given up all control of his Vegas ventures to his principal investor, Stockbridge Capital. The company’s Executive Managing Director Terry Fancher will be the boss of the hotel plans, and Nazarian has been ousted as chief executive.

Surely it’s small consolation, but Nazarian is in good company. Frank Sinatra was famously stripped of his gambling license back in 1963 for his association with mob boss Sam Giancana. —Shawn Setaro

[LA Times]

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