Death Row Records co-founder Michael ‘Harry-O’ Harris has been freed by President Trump and will walk out of prison today after 32 years behind bars for kidnap and attempted murder after intense lobbying by his friend Snoop Dogg
- Cocaine kingpin Michael ‘Harry O’ Harris will leave Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution a free man on Tuesday after being pardoned by Donald Trump
- Snoop Dogg was instrumental in convincing the president to pardon Harris, enlisting Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and justice reform campaigners
- Harris was convicted of attempted murder and kidnapping 1988
- He has since reinvented himself as an activist while inside, campaigning for prison reform
- Harris helped found music label Death Row Records along with Suge Knight
- The label is behind music legends Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg including a theater company that gave actor Denzel Washington his first break
- Trump has granted a slew of pardons in his final days in office, with other recipients including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and longtime confidant Roger Stone
- Others are expected today and tomorrow
Donald Trump has pardoned Death Row Records co-founder and former drug kingpin Michael ‘Harry O’ Harris after a secret campaign by rapper Snoop Dogg, DailyMail.com can exclusively reveal.
Harris, 59, is set to be released from a California federal prison Tuesday after 32 years behind bars for attempted murder and cocaine trafficking.
Snoop Dogg, who rapped under Harris’ infamous record label in the 1990s alongside Dr Dre and Tupac Shakur, enlisted Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and justice reform campaigners to convince Trump.
The last-ditch attempt succeeded on Monday when the outgoing president signed Harris’ pardon. DailyMail.com understands White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows advised Trump against signing the pardon, but the 45th president was swayed by his family. Donald Trump has pardoned Death Row Records co-founder and former drug kingpin Michael ¿Harry O¿ Harris after a secret campaign by rapper Snoop Dogg, DailyMail.com can exclusively revealHarris, 59, is set to be released from a California federal prison Tuesday after 32 years behind bars for attempted murder and cocaine trafficking.Michael Harris’ right hand man Al Brown with the former drug baron’s friends and family wait for his imminent release in from prison in Lompoc, California onTuesday
Harris’ family and friends arrived at Lompoc Federal Correctional Institution on Tuesday morning in a black Rolls Royce, ready to welcome the former drug baron as he steps out for his first taste of freedom since 1988. His sentence was due to last until 2028.
The erstwhile drug king helped run a multi-million dollar rap music empire from his cell after founding the parent company for Death Row Records with a $1.5 million investment.
Alongside his dealings with drug cartels, Harris ran a string of successful legitimate businesses, including a theatre company that gave actor Denzel Washington his first break.
Harris was convicted of attempted murder and kidnapping 1988, but has since reinvented himself as an activist while inside, campaigning for prison reform.Ivanka and Jared lobbied to get Harris releasedPresident Trump has pardoned Death Row’s HarrisSnoop Dogg rapped under Harris¿ infamous record label in the 1990s alongside Dr Dre and Tupac Shakur
Criminal justice reform advocate Alice Johnson, who had her life sentence commuted by Trump in 2018, told the Daily Beast she had been lobbying Ivanka, Jared and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to get Harris released.
‘The president knows how much this case means to me,’ she said. ‘In reviewing Michael Harris’ case, his story, and what he’s gone through, this is such an unfair case… He should have been home a decade ago.’
Trump commuted Johnson’s multi-decade sentence after a meeting in the oval office with Kim Kardashian, who was pushing for justice reform and Johnson’s release.
Harris’ successful pardon campaign started on December 26, when Snoop asked for help from former music producer and federal prisoner Weldon Angelos, who was also pardoned by Trump last month.
‘Snoop brought this case to me, and I brought Alice Johnson on board to help it with me, and she brought it to the West Wing,’ Angelos told the Daily Beast on Sunday.
At 20 Harris started selling crack cocaine, making close connections with both the infamous Bloods and Rolling 60s Crips gangs
The label Death Row Records is behind music legends Dr Dre, Tupac Shakur (right) and Snoop Dogg (left,)
Harris’ successful pardon campaign started on December 26, when Snoop asked for help from former music producer and federal prisoner Weldon Angelos, who was also pardoned by Trump last monthAlongside his dealings with drug cartels, Harris ran a string of successful legitimate businesses, including a theatre company that gave actor Denzel Washington his first break
The pardon is among a slew of clemencies Trump has granted in his final days in office, with other recipients including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and longtime confidant Roger Stone.
Harris’ attorney, Bruce Zucker, told DailyMail.com that Harris’ release was long overdue and his 20-year sentence was ‘unduly harsh’.
‘It occurred during the 1980s, at a time when then Presidents Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush authorized legislation that imposed draconian penalties for drug offenses, which primarily and adversely affected young African American men living in the inner-city, such as Mr. Harris,’ Zucker said.
‘This commutation is more than equitable, and it is long overdue. We are all grateful for the hard work on this case by prison reform professionals Alice Johnson, Weldon Angeleno, and artist Snoop Dogg, as well as private investigator and sentencing expert John Brown.’
The attorney said Harris spent 23 years in state prison over a first-degree attempted murder conviction, until ‘the alleged victim of his crime recanted’ in 2011.
But instead of being released, Harris was transferred to federal prison to begin serving a 235-month sentence for his drug crimes.
The pardoned former drug lord’s right hand man, Al Brown, who has been friends with Harris for decades, said he had been waiting for Harris’ release ‘33 long years’.
‘You don’t even know how it feels right now,’ he told DailyMail.com. ‘Mike was never a bad guy. He did a lot of good on the streets. He was successful as a businessman before he left prison.Harris’ ttorney Bruce Zucker
‘Now he wants to give back. For the last 20 or so years he’s been creating programs. He was able to get San Quentin News back up and running, with him as the Editor-In-Chief. He’s done a lot for the youth up in Richmond, California.’
The Death Row founder’s lawyers had tried to get him out early on compassionate grounds last year, arguing that he suffered from an autoimmune disease and that an outbreak of coronavirus at his Lompoc prison put him at severe risk – but the request was denied.
Harris’ desire to help the less fortunate may stem from his hard-knock childhood, growing up in South Central Los Angeles in the ‘low bottoms’ neighborhood and spending his school years shining shoes for ‘high-rollers and players’.
He had a musical upbringing – classically trained by his next-door neighbor, Mrs Payne, as a pianist and joined his school band playing the Trombone and Drums. He also went on to take classes in acting at college.
But aged 20 he started selling crack cocaine, making close connections with both the infamous Bloods and Rolling 60s Crips gangs.
TRUMP’S HIGH-PROFILE PARDONS
JOSEPH ARPAIO Pardoned August 25, 2017 (right)
Ex-sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. Contempt of court.
KRISTIAN SACUIER Pardoned March 9. 2018.
Navy submariner. Broke national security laws by photographing inside sub
LEWIS ‘SCOOTER’ LIBBY Pardoned April 13, 2018
Dick Cheney’s chief of staff who perjured himself and lied to the FBI
JACK JOHNSON Posthumously pardoned May 24, 2018
First black heavyweight boxing champion. Brought white girlfriend across state lines
DINESH D’SOUZA Pardoned May 31, 2018
Ultra-conservative provocateur. Illegal campaign contributions
ALICE JOHNSON Sentence commuted June 6, 2018. Pardoned August 28, 2020
Life sentence for money laundering and involvement in drug trafficking. Trump was lobbied by Kim Kardashian for clemencyJohnson (second left) was the highest-profile of a group of drugs offenders Kim Kardashian (second right) pushed Trump to free
CONRAD BLACK Pardoned May 15, 2019
Looted his newspaper empire while he was CEO. Wrote Trump biography
MATTHEW GOLSTEYN Pardoned November 15, 2019
Green Beret charged with murdering Taliban bombmaker
MICHAEL MILIKEN Pardoned February 18, 2020
1980s Wall Street ‘junk bond king’ who served two years for securities fraud
BERNARD KERIK Pardoned February 18, 2020
Rudy Giuliani’s last NYPD commissioner, jailed for tax evasion and lies
ROD BLAGOJEVICH Pardoned February 18, 2020
Democratic Illinois governor who tried to sell Obama’s Senate seat, before appearing on The Apprentice
ROGER STONE Sentence commuted July 10,2020. Pardoned December 23, 2020
Veteran GOP dirty trickster and on-off adviser to Trump. Lied to Congress and witness tampered. Now reliable Trump booster who was in D.C. on eve of MAGA riotSalute: Roger Stone offered his notorious Nixon-style double-V at a Trump rally on Capitol Hill on January 5, the eve of the MAGA riot
SUSAN B. ANTHONY Pardoned posthumously August 18, 2020
Suffragist who died in 1906 and was convicted of illegally voting in 1873. Her foundation rejected the idea she would have accepted a pardon
MIKE FLYNN Pardoned November 25, 2020
Three star general turned Trump’s fist national security advisor. Pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about talks with Russia’s ambassador and tried to reverse his plea while represented by ‘Kraken’ attorney Sidney Powell. Later pushed Trump to introduce martial law
WELDON ANGELOS Pardoned December 22, 2020
Snoop Dogg producer convicted of drug and gun charges
ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN Pardoned December 22, 2020
Dutch lawyer who lied to the FBI during Mueller probe
GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS Pardoned December 22,2020
One-time Trump campaign adviser who lied to the FBI. His claims of knowledge of Russian knowledge of DNC emails started the Russia probe
CHRIS COLLINS Pardoned December 22, 2020
Republican congressman from upstate New York and insider trader. First member of Congress to endorse Trump
DUNCAN HUNTER Pardoned December 22,2020
California Republican congressman who looted his own campaign funds for his, his wife’s and his mistress’ lifestyles. Second congressman to endorse Trump. Wife Margaret – who informed on him in plea deal – was pardoned the following day
NICHOLAS SLATTEN, PAUL SLOUGH, EVAN LIBERTY, DUSTIN HEARD Pardoned December 22,2020
Four Blackwater contractors were convicted on charges including murder and manslaughter for killing 14 Iraqis in massacre in Nisour Square, Baghdad. Fox News Pete Hegseth lobbied for their release
PAUL MANAFORT Pardoned December 23,2020
Trump campaign chairman (pictured) who admitted conspiracy against the U.S., and was convicted of tax and bank fraud as part of Mueller probe. Still has to forfeit his ill-gotten millions
CHARLES KUSHNER Pardoned December 23, 2020
Jared’s father and billionaire real-estate developer. He set up his brother-in-law with a prostitute in retaliation for him cooperating in a federal probe, and committed tax fraud
He grew a vast distribution network reaching New York, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois, supplied by Colombian drug cartels, according to the DEA.
Alongside his drug empire, Harris also launched a limousine company, a deli, an electrical contracting business and a Beverly Hills hair salon, all aided by his ex-wife, Lydia, who he met just two years before his incarceration, and who he married and divorced while in prison.
Though now defunct, in its heyday Death Row Records was one of Harris’ most successful ventures, selling 18 million albums and earning more than $325 million in its first four years alone, launching to stardom west coast rap legends including Dr. Dre, NWA, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur, and was widely credited with changing the face of 90s hip hop.The 57-year-old is currently being held at a Federal Correctional Facility in Lompoc, California, where he is visited by family (pictured)
But for more than 20 years Harris has been full of remorse, and believes he has long been ready to rejoin society a changed man.
‘I had strong relationships with both the Bloods and the Crips. I was a player who knew how to get things done from the streets to suites. Back then I was blinded by the greed and the false sense of power,’ he told the LA Times in 1997.
‘I know now that selling dope was a big mistake. Look what it did to my family. Look what it did to the community. Look where I ended up.’
In 2019 Harris spoke exclusively to DailyMailTV, pledging to ‘give back’ to the communities he came from.
‘Over 30 years ago, I was part of the problem. However, over the years I have repeatedly proven myself to be part of the solution.
‘It’s about returning to society with my newfound vision, talents, and insights [and] giving back to the communities where my help is so desperately needed.’
Harris said he hopes to take his ‘implanted wisdom’ back into the streets so he can share what he’s learned to help heal broken communities.
‘I know that from the moment I’m free I will work tiredly to help change lives.’Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc in Northern California where Harris has been imprisoned
He added: ‘I am a man who has experienced incredible highs and incredible lows. I am a man who came to prison a boy and who will emerge as a grown man.’
Harris came up with his record label’s name while temporarily housed on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison.
After the death of Tupac in 1996 and the departure of some of the label’s bigger acts, Death Row’s success began to dwindle and co-founder Suge Knight wasn’t paying Harris what he deserved.
As a result Harris and ex-wife Lydia filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit and were awarded a $107 million judgment against the record label and Knight.
Knight is currently serving 28 years in prison after he pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter after driving his truck into two men, killing one, Terry Carter, following a row in Compton, California.