Busta Busted in New York Over Weekend
E! Online -- First came The Big Bang. Then the big bust.
Busta Rhymes was arraigned Sunday in Manhattan on an assault charge one week after allegedly getting medieval on a fan who supposed spat on the "In the Ghetto" rapper's SUV.
The rapper is facing misdemeanor counts of assault and harassment, said Barbara Thompson, spokeswoman for the D.A. He is due back in court Oct. 24.
Per the New York Police Department, the 34-year-old Rhymes was taken into custody on Saturday, following his performance at the Amsterjam Music Festival on Randalls Island in support of his latest album, The Big Bang, and initially charged with felony assault stemming from the early-morning Aug. 12 incident.
The hip-hopster, whose real name is Trevor Smith, was accused of beating the crap out of Roberto Lebron, repeatedly punching and kicking him in the face and body near the intersection of 19th Street and Sixth Avenue in the Grammercy Park district as Rhymes' bodyguards stood by and watched. The victim was treated at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx for a concussion, split lip and injury to his wrist, and later released.
In addition to felony assault, police also booked the rapper on a weapons-possession charge after a post-arrest search turned up a 10-inch knife in his vehicle.
The Brooklyn-born entertainer spent Saturday night in jail. The following day he appeared with his attorney, Scott Leemon, at his arraignment hearing, where Judge Michael Obus waived the rapper's $3,000 bail. After being released on his own recognizance, Rhymes gave reporters the slip, sneaking out the back of the courthouse.
Leemon told E! Online Monday that authorities targeted Rhymes because of his reputed silence in a separate investigation into the unsolved shooting death of his bodyguard, 29-year-old Israel Ramirez.
"I believe this is a payback by the NYPD," said Leemon. "This case one should never have been prosecuted, and two, if it was he should have received a desk appearance ticket."
A spokesman for the department countered that the emcee didn't receive such a ticket because he was initially facing a more serious felony. Prosecutors later downgraded the charges to third-degree assault and harassment, both misdemeanors.
As for the weapons charge, Leemon added that the knife was a "machete prop" that's an "administrative violation," not a crime in New York.
As for the ongoing murder investigation, Leemon declined to comment.
Ramirez, a longtime member of Rhyme's entourage, was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in the early morning hours of Feb. 5 outside a Brooklyn warehouse while the rapper was shooting a music video.
Ten days later, police commissioner Ray Kelly slammed Rhymes for refusing to talk to investigators probing the slaying, which the New York Daily News speculated had to do with tensions between Busta and fellow rapper Tony Yayo, a member of 50 Cent's G-Unit crew.
Just weeks after the murder, the "Gimme Some More" artist was slapped with an assault suit by an fan who alleged Rhymes and another member of his posse attacked him last year at a sandwich shop near City Hall after the fan asked for his autograph, causing "serious bodily injuries."
The rapper's camp has yet to comment on the allegations.
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