Rap mogul Irv Gotti was terrified of going to jail during his recent money laundering trial, despite knowing he was innocent of all charges.

The Murder Inc Records founder and his brother CHRISTOPHER were exonerated of all charges earlier this month (2DEC05) after federal agents attempted to prove he had created his rap empire with illegal drug cash from friend KENNETH 'SUPREME' McGRIFF.

The brothers, real names IRV and CHRISTOPHER LORENZO, appeared calm and collected in court, but the rap mogul admits he secretly feared the end of his freedom.

He tells MTV News, "It's an overall happy feeling for a lot of reasons. It's a happy feeling that my mom and dad haven't got to worry any more.

"Just watching them come to court and seeing my mom with the stress, I couldn't help her, I couldn't ease the pain until it was over.

"It's a happiness that the jurors saw through everything and did the right thing. It's a happiness that after three years, the cloud the government put over my head is removed. And the sun is now shining."

Gotti maintains he was picked on because of his tough image and nickname: "I love this country. I don't want to live anywhere else. All I'm going to say is, with me, they had it wrong. They need to understand hip-hop more. Once they understand us, they would know. I'm nicknamed Irv Gotti, it doesn't mean nothing."

He admits the wait for a decision from the jury was one of the worst experiences of his life: "You sit and you wait and you're scared like you wouldn't believe. Each time a note comes out it's like, 'Oh God, no.'"

"I was scared to death, but I also wanted it over. I was tired of waking up with the knots in my stomach."