Rhymes mulls plea offer on assault charges
EmptyNEW YORK -- Busta Rhymes rejected a prosecutor's offer of six months in jail on two assault charges Tuesday but is considering a judge's deal that would let him plead guilty to misdemeanor assault and remain free.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Tanya Kennedy said the 34-year-old rapper could plead guilty to third-degree assault and receive a conditional discharge.
Rhymes, whose real name is Trevor Smith, is accused in one complaint with beating Edward Hatchett, 39, his former driver, "with a closed fist about the head and neck" and kicking him in the ribs and torso during a dispute over back pay. The Dec. 26 attack outside Rhymes' lower Manhattan office left Hatchett with cuts, bruises and substantial pain, a court complaint says.
In the other case, Rhymes is charged with assaulting a fan, allegedly for spitting on his car, after an Aug. 12 performance at the AmsterJam Music Festival on Randalls Island.
Assistant District Attorney Harrison Schweiloch had offered Rhymes six months in jail to cover both assaults with orders of protection for the victims.
Rhymes, free on $3,500 bail, didn't speak in court or while leaving the courthouse.
If he accepts the judge's offer and meets the conditions of the proposed sentence -- which would include five days of community service, two weeks of youth lectures and six months of anger management classes -- the charges would be dismissed in six months.
He also would be on three years' probation. If he failed to meet the conditions of the sentence, or if he violated probation, he could go to jail for a year.
Police have tried to question Rhymes as a potential witness in the February 2006 shooting death of his bodyguard Israel Ramirez. Police say Rhymes so far has refused to cooperate.
Rhymes' hits include "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," "Dangerous" and "Touch It."