A former Los Angeles deputy district attorney who
was fired for his handling of a 1992 assault case involving rap music mogul Marion Suge
Knight has been disciplined by the State Bar. LAWRENCE M. LONGO [#43519], 60,
stipulated to two counts of failing to notify his employer about significant developments
in the case and was given a stayed two-year suspension and placed on two years of
Knight signed Longos 18-year-old daughter to a $50,000
recording contract with his label, Death Row Records, and lived in a Malibu Colony home
owned by Longos family while the deputy D.A. was overseeing Knights case.
According to the stipulation Longo reached with the bar, he was required to notify the
D.A. about both the recording contract and the lease arrangement Knight had with his
By his conduct, the stipulation says, [Longo]
placed himself in circumstances which created the appearance of impropriety in the mind of
the public. In mitigation, however, the bar found that although Longo exercised poor
judgment, he did not act dishonestly. He also had an exemplary 27-year career as a
prosecutor. Longo was fired for conflict of interest and other departmental policy
violations, but a California Justice Department investigation requested by the district
attorney found insufficient grounds for criminal charges against him. Investigators said
he never sought any special treatment for Knight.
Knight pleaded no contest in February 1995 to two counts of assault
with a deadly weapon, admitting that he used a gun during an attack against two aspiring
rappers. He was given a nine-year suspended sentence but eventually went to prison after
violating his probation.
After the plea, Longo maintained the files in Knights case and
continued to receive information about the record producer. In the summer of 1995, Longos
son, Frank, provided a demo tape done by his sister, Gina, to David Kenner, who was both
Knights attorney and general counsel for Death Row Records. Gina Longo told her
father about the contract offer in December 1995 and received a $25,000 advance from the
record company the following month.
In August and September of 1996, Longo made court appearances in
connection with probation revocation and drug testing proceedings for Knight. He did not
disclose his daughters contract or the fact that he had gone to a dinner party
attended by Knight and Kenner where the contract was signed.
In March of 1996, Longo entered into a 12-month lease agreement with
Kenner, leasing a family property for $19,000
a month, plus a $22,800 commission to be paid to Frank Longo. During the ensuing months,
Death Row Records directly paid Lawrence Longo $127,000 to lease the Malibu Colony
property, the sole asset of a trust for which Lawrence Longo and his wife were trustees.
Although it was not his exclusive residence, Knight occupied the
property frequently from June through September.
While Longo continued to represent the district attorney in
overseeing Knights case, he did not disclose his business relationship with Knight.
When Longo appealed his firing to the Los Angeles County Civil
Service Commission, he argued that his financial dealings with Knight posed no conflict of
interest because they came well after Knight entered his plea in the assault matter. The
commission upheld the firing in 1998.
Longo also was ordered by the bar to take the professional
responsibility exam within a year and to pay costs of about $8,700.