Good things happen to bad people
Jacob the Jeweler's handiwork
Godfather of Bling Denies He Aided Drug Ring
By LOLA OGUNNAIKE and ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
Published: June 17, 2006
He's been called the Harry Winston of the hip-hop world and the godfather of bling, and several rappers have referred to him in their verses. His name is Jacob Arabo, and federal prosecutors are accusing him of laundering money for a huge cocaine distribution network based in Detroit.
But to his loyal clients, who can't get enough of his diamond-encrusted baubles, he is known simply as Jacob the Jeweler. The list of those who have sported his pieces reads like a who's who of urban culture: artists like P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Missy and Pharrell, and athletes like Allen Iverson, Derek Jeter and Shaquille O'Neal.
"If you were a rapper on your way to the top, a stop at Jacob was almost mandatory," said Marvet Britto, founder of the Britto Agency, a public relations company for sports and entertainment figures. "It meant that you had arrived."
In his song "Get in My Car," the rapper 50 Cent rhymes about Mr. Arabo. "Take her to the diamond district/ introduce her to Jacob/ Tell her if she like me/ she should keep me icy." In "Touch the Sky," Kanye West raps, "I went to Jacob an hour after I got my advance/ I just wanted to shine."
Mr. Arabo has just a bit part — one short paragraph — in the 39-page indictment handed up by a grand jury in Michigan and unsealed on Thursday. The indictment lists 41 defendants and accuses two of them, Terry Lee Flenory and Demetrius Edward Flenory, of establishing a drug gang in the early 1990's, which they later named Black Mafia Family, and conspiring with others to distribute more than 476 kilograms of cocaine. Prosecutors say the gang made about $270 million in profits from drug sales across the country.
The indictment charges the jeweler — who goes by the surname Arabo professionally but whose surname is listed in the indictment as Arabov — with failing to declare large amounts of cash from purchases that were made by the Flenorys and their associates as a way of laundering drug money.
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman of Manhattan, said yesterday that Mr. Arabo did not knowingly sell jewelry to anyone involved in illegal activity.
"All of the cash earned by Jacob Arabov from the sale of jewelry was fully reported, and all the appropriate I.R.S. forms were filed," Mr. Brafman said.
This brought a smile to my face.
Jacob the Jeweler is a symptom of everything wrong with hip hop culture. Grown men with more jewelery than dowagers. A nasty, deadly culture of consumerism, driven by
The fact that he's now in legal trouble for associating with criminals is hardly a shock to the system. It seems, in a way, oddly predictable. Run with rats, pick up hantavirus.
He represents the most ignorant, most offense part of hip hop. And like much that it touches it seems to end in courtrooms and federal indictments.
posted by Steve @ 1:36:00 AM