Busta Rhymes charged with assault


Busta Rhymes was charged Thursday with misdemeanor assault stemming from a man's complaint that the hip-hop star had beaten him in a dispute over money.

Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Neil Ross set bail at $3,500 for the third-degree assault charge, and set Rhymes' next court date for Feb. 20.

The rapper later made bail and left the courthouse, away from the media's view. One of his lawyers, Scott Leeman, said Rhymes was taken away on a Correction Department bus. His sport utility vehicle was still parked outside the courthouse.

Rhymes, 34, turned himself in and was booked on the misdemeanor charge at a Manhattan police station last night, police Lt. John Grimpel said.

Grimpel said a man told police that Rhymes had punched and kicked him numerous times in a confrontation outside a lower Manhattan building on Dec. 26. The man, whose name wasn't released, was treated at a hospital after the incident, Grimpel said.

"I can tell you, judge, my client is innocent, and I rarely say this in a courtroom," said Robert Kalina, another of Rhymes' lawyers. He added that the alleged victim had no discernible injuries other than one red mark on his face.

Rhymes, who was born Trevor Smith, was charged with assault after an Aug. 12 performance at the AmsterJam Music Festival on Randalls Island. He was ticketed in November after police said he was seen talking on his cell phone while driving past a Manhattan police station.

Police have also sought to question Rhymes as a potential witness in the shooting death of his bodyguard Israel Ramirez last February.