Singer Bruno Mars avoids jail on cocaine charge

LOS ANGELES Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:53pm EST

1 of 2. Pop singer Bruno Mars, real name Peter Hernandez, appears in District Court before entering a guilty plea to possession of cocaine in Las Vegas, Nevada February 16, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fresh off his weekend Grammy win, singer Bruno Mars pleaded guilty to cocaine possession on Wednesday but avoided jail in exchange for probation, community service and drug counseling.

Mars, 25, who had a breakthrough year in 2010 with hits "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade", made a brief appearance in a Las Vegas courtroom where a judge sanctioned a plea deal worked out with prosecutors.

Mars, whose real name is Peter Hernandez, was arrested in September in a bathroom at the Hard Rock Hotel with a bag of cocaine, according to a police report.

The singer's lawyer Blair Berk entered the guilty plea on his behalf. Mars was placed on 12 months probation, given a $2,000 fine, 200 hours community service and ordered to attend drug counseling.

"He is going to stay out of trouble for 12 months," Berk told the judge. If Mars does not slip up, the cocaine possession charge will be dismissed from his record in a year's time.

Mars won a Grammy Award in Los Angeles on Sunday for best male pop vocal performance for his romantic ballad "Just the Way You Are."

His court appearance came one day after he announced a North American tour in May with R&B singer Janelle Monae.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Bob Tourtellotte)

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