Rapper Rhymes gets probation in NY for assault

Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:10pm EST
 
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Grammy-nominated rapper Busta Rhymes pleaded guilty on Wednesday to assault, two driving infractions and weapons possession, avoiding a trial and the yearlong prison sentence recommended by prosecutors.

Busta Rhymes, 35, whose real name is Trevor Smith, had initially pleaded innocent to all the charges and was scheduled to go on trial on Wednesday.

But Judge Larry Stevens disagreed with prosecutors that Rhymes deserved time behind bars. Instead, he sentenced him to three years' probation and 10 days of community service for beating a fan who reportedly spat on his car in August 2006, and then assaulting his driver, Larry Hackett, that December.

Rhymes was also fined $1,250 for driving with a suspended license in 2006 and driving while intoxicated in 2007.

"I just want to say that I'm very grateful to the judge, I'm very grateful to the system. I believe in the system. It hasn't failed me personally yet," Rhymes, dressed in a crisp black pinstripe suit, said outside the courtroom.

"I'm just glad that all of this is finally behind me and I can go back to doing what I do best -- making great music and great films and being a people person," he said. Almost a dozen onlookers crowded into a courthouse hallway patted him on the back, snapped pictures and wished him well.

Rhymes' lawyer Scott Leemon said Stevens had agreed in closed talks that a jail sentence was "out of line with what every other person who comes through this court" would get.

Rhymes is due back in court on March 18 to enroll in an anti-drunken driving program.

(Editing by Claudia Parsons and Doina Chiacu)

 
<p>In this file photo singer Busta Rhymes performs "Shaft" during the taping of "Movies Rock" at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California, December 2, 2007. The Grammy-nominated rapper pleaded guilty on Wednesday to assault, two driving infractions and weapons possession, avoiding a trial and the yearlong prison sentence recommended by prosecutors. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>