Rapper Busta Rhymes rejects plea deal in New York

NEW YORK Tue May 8, 2007 3:28pm EDT

Rap artist Trevor Smith, also known as Busta Rhymes, departs from court regarding charges of driving while impaired in New York May 3, 2007. Rhymes turned down a plea deal on Tuesday that would have sent him to jail for one year, the Manhattan district attorney's office said. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Rap artist Trevor Smith, also known as Busta Rhymes, departs from court regarding charges of driving while impaired in New York May 3, 2007. Rhymes turned down a plea deal on Tuesday that would have sent him to jail for one year, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Grammy-nominated rapper Busta Rhymes turned down a plea deal on Tuesday that would have sent him to jail for one year, the Manhattan district attorney's office said.

Rhymes has been arrested four times in 10 months, most recently on May 3 on suspicion of drunken driving. He also faces two charges for assault and one for driving with a suspended license.

In exchange for pleading guilty, Rhymes would have served one year for the assault charges, been fined $1,500 and forced to participate in an anti-drunken driving program, said Edison Alban, a spokesman for the DA's office.

The next court date was set for July 10, the DA's office said.

Rhymes, 34, whose real name is Trevor Smith, was pulled over shortly after midnight on May 3 in midtown Manhattan while driving a 2006 GMC Yukon Denali, which police described as having "excessively tinted windows."

A police spokeswoman said Rhymes had a "strong odor of alcohol on his breath."

In February, the rapper was arrested for driving with a suspended license and in 2006 he was arrested in January and August on separate assault charges.

Rhymes' lawyer, Scott Leemon, was not immediately available for comment.

Leemon has been quoted in press reports as calling Rhymes' arrests "payback" for refusing to cooperate in the investigation into the fatal 2006 shooting of Rhymes' former bodyguard, Israel Ramirez. The case remains unsolved.

Rhymes was a founding member of the influential Leaders of the New School in the early 1990s and as a solo artist has recorded hits such as "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check" and "Dangerous."

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