LATEST: Hip-hop moguls IRV and CHRIS LORENZO's lawyer used a ploy from the OJ Simpson trial yesterday (17NOV05) to discredit a key witness's allegation that a crack dealer delivered a $70,000 (GBP39,000)-stuffed shoebox to the brothers.

The Lorenzos, who call themselves the GOTTI BROTHERS after the infamous mafia gang, stand accused of laundering drug money through their Murder Inc record label.

The brothers, who launched the careers of Ja Rule and Ashanti, were allegedly given money by drug lord KENNETH 'SUPREME' McGRIFF to set up their label, and once their business began to flourish they actively helped him turn his drug profits into legitimate earnings through his employment with them.

But the first day of the trial yesterday (17NOV05) saw defence lawyer GERALD SHARGEL rail against the impossibility of a witness statement claiming the $70,000 box in question was comprised of $5 and $10 notes. Shargel calculated that would add up to at least 7,000 bills.

But when he tried to replicate the stunt in the courtroom with a same-sized cardboard box, the lunacy of the claim was made apparent.

Shargel demanded, "I'd like you to fit all 7,000 bills in that shoebox. Impossible, right?"

The puzzled witness, DONELL NICHOLS, replied, "I don't get it."

The legal stunt has prompted parallels with OJ Simpson's notorious trial, where a bloodied glove was shown to be the wrong size for his hand.

Attorney Shargel also painstakingly highlighted Nichols' unreliability as a prosecution witness, citing his lies about his Navy record, work history and ties to the hip-hop record label after he finished working there.

The trial continues.