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Police Probe B.I.G. Conspiracy

New developments have surfaced in the 1997 unsolved murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G.

Los Angeles authorities are now looking into allegations that a former police officer with a checkered past played a role in the rap star's death, reports CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales.

Detectives are investigating whether former officer David Mack conspired with Death Row Records founder Marion "Suge" Knight to kill Notorious B.I.G., it was reported Thursday.

Some investigators believe the killing of Notorious B.I.G., whose real name was Christopher Wallace, involved a feud between Los Angeles-based Death Row and New York rivals, the paper said.

The investigation is probing the possibility that Mack arranged for a friend to carry out the shooting outside the Petersen Automotive Museum on March 9, 1997, the Los Angeles Times said.

There have been no arrests or charges in the rapper's death.

Mack is a friend and former partner of Rafael Perez, a jailed ex-officer at the center of a corruption probe that has focused on the Police Department's Rampart station.

Mack is serving 14 years for a Nov. 6, 1997, bank robbery that netted a still-missing $722,000. Two days after the robbery, Mack and Perez spent thousands of dollars while partying in Las Vegas, the newspaper said.

Detectives who searched Mack's house in connection with the bank robbery reportedly found what a police source called a "shrine" to Tupac Shakur, the Death Row star gunned down while driving with Knight in Las Vegas on Sept. 7, 1996.

Police wouldn't discuss the newspaper report, which cited confidential police documents.

"There's an ongoing investigation and it's an investigation involving a possible prosecution so we aren't giving any additional information at this time," Officer Guillermo Campos said Thursday.

Investigators are trying to determine if Mack hired longtime friend Amir Muhammad to kill Wallace, according to the Times report based on confidential police documents and sources that include a former detective assigned to the case.

"It sounds absolutely ridiculous to me," said attorney Donald M. Re, who represents Mack.

Knight's attorney, Robin Yanes, said Thursday that his client doesn't know Mack.

"He's not a friend, not a business associate, nothing," the lawyer said.

"A year ago it came up and now they're recycling it to cover their butts. They have nowhere to go. They are at a standstill," Yanes said. "They went up to the prison and tried to get people to snitch out Suge and they got nothing."

Muhammad, known as Harry Billups when he and Mack were classmates at the University of Oregon, dropped out of sight after visiting Mack in prison on Dec. 26, 1997.

Several months after the rapper's death, but prior to Mack's arrest, a jailhouse informant told detectives that the rapper's killer went by an Arabic-sounding name, police records show. However, the inforant was unsure about the name and suggested several others.

Investigators also said a driver's license photo of Muhammad resembled a composite sketch of Wallace's killer, the newspaper said.

In addition, a witness in the rapper's motorcade placed Mack at the scene, and another man in the same vehicle as Wallace picked Mack out of a photo lineup, according to police documents.

Police, who have been unable to locate Muhammad, have spent nearly two years trying to build a case against Mack, the Times said.

Detectives previously identified Knight as a suspect in the Notorious B.I.G. killing, alleging he may have ordered it while in jail on a parole violation. He currently is serving a nine-year sentence for a 1992 attack on two rappers in a recording studio.

Meanwhile, Perez, a former anti-gang officer at Rampart station, is the key figure in an unfolding scandal involving falsified reports, evidence planting and a shooting that paralyzed a man.

Information from Perez, who is cooperating in exchange for a lighter sentence on his conviction for stealing cocaine from a police evidence room, has resulted in the overturning of 11 convictions and suspension of more than a dozen officers. He has not implicated Mack.

The Times also said a former Compton policeman who provided security for Death Row told investigators that Mack and fellow LAPD Officer Kevin Gaines socialized in the label's circle.

Gaines, who was dating Knight's estranged wife Sharitha, was shot to death March 18, 1997, when he pulled a gun on an undercover LAPD officer during a traffic dispute. The plainclothes officer was cleared.

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