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Chuck Berry Agrees to Probation on Pot Charge : Plea bargain: Charges of child abuse against legendary rock star have been dropped, attorney says.

November 21, 1990|From Associated Press

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — Legendary rock star Chuck Berry has agreed to serve two years of unsupervised probation on a marijuana charge, and charges of child abuse have been dropped, his lawyer said today.

The marijuana charge was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Berry's attorney, Wayne Schoeneberg, said he had been talking with prosecutors for two months.

"The child abuse charge was non-negotiable," Schoeneberg said today. "I knew there was never any evidence to even suggest that Chuck Berry was engaged in child abuse or child pornography or anything like that."

As part of plea negotiations, Berry said that the marijuana found during a raid of his home in July was not his but that he would accept probation on a misdemeanor charge, the lawyer said.

In the agreement reached Tuesday, Berry dropped his civil-rights violation suit against St. Charles County Prosecutor William Hannah that had stemmed from the raid.

Hannah promised to issue a statement later in the day.

Berry was charged July 19 after local drug agents searched his rural estate near Wentzville, about 40 miles west of St. Louis, at Hannah's direction.

The original charges accused him of possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana. Three charges of child abuse alleged that Berry made nude films of youths under the age of 17 for sexual gratification.

Authorities said the raid turned up several plastic bags of marijuana, some hashish, two .22-caliber rifles and a shotgun, plus $122,000 and various pornographic videotapes, slides and books.

The raid came after an informant told authorities that Berry had received a large amount of cocaine and would have it at his home for 10 days. Police found no cocaine.

Berry, 63, who has always maintained that he "has not (used) and does not use or possess marijuana or cocaine," said today that he is contributing $5,000 to drug and alcohol education and rehabilitation programs.

Schoeneberg said the tape that brought the child abuse charges was phony evidence.

"Somebody had slipped that videotape into evidence seized at his property," Schoeneberg said.

Berry had been free on $20,000 bond.

The rock pioneer first hit the radio airwaves in 1955 with "Maybellene" and later with such early rock 'n' roll hits as "Johnny B. Goode," "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Sweet Little Sixteen."

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