Willie Nelson pot plea still not hashed out

Fri Jul 1, 2011 7:06pm EDT
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By Elliott Blackburn

LUBBOCK, Texas (Reuters) - Time's slipping away on a deal for iconic U.S. country singer Willie Nelson's misdemeanor drug charge.

County Judge Becky Dean-Walker said on Friday she wouldn't sign off on a plea deal that reduced the charge to the same as a speeding ticket.

"I'm not going to be guilty of signing something because someone is a celebrity," Dean-Walker told Reuters.

The Texan troubadour famed for hits such as "Crazy" and "Always on My Mind" ran into trouble last November when his tour bus stopped for an immigration checkpoint.

A Border Patrol agent smelled marijuana and summoned deputies. Officials first reported enough marijuana was found to charge the singer with a felony, but County Attorney C.R. Bramblett told Reuters in early June that less than two ounces were found, making it a lesser criminal offense.

Nelson agreed in June to plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, pay a $500 fine and court costs of about $280.

Nelson's attorney, Joe Turner, mailed in all the paperwork after striking the deal with Bramblett and expected it to be over by the end of June, he said.

"Normally, that's a done deal," Turner told Reuters on Friday.   Continued...

<p>Singer Willie Nelson poses for photographers on the red carpet as he arrives to pay tribute to comedian, actor, author and musician Bill Cosby, who is being awarded the Kennedy Center for the performing Arts' Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, in Washington, October 26, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Theiler</p>