VAN NUYS — Prosecutors filed felony charges against a founding member of the Grammy-winning rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and a house guest Monday for allegedly firing a shotgun and possessing explosives on the Fourth of July.
Stanley "Flesh-N-Bone" Howse, 24, also was charged with possessing an unregistered assault weapon, an AK-47, found inside his rented house in Chatsworth by police who were summoned about 1 a.m. Friday by neighbors who reported hearing gunshots, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert F. Foltz Jr.
Local and federal authorities continue to investigate the source of several other weapons seized from the house, including a shotgun reported stolen from a pawnshop during the 1992 riots, Foltz said.
Howse and his brother-in-law Jamar Tarik Cole, 19, spent the holiday weekend in custody at the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire station. The rapper was freed after posting $500,000 bond.
Commissioner Gerald T. Richardson lowered bail to $95,000 for Cole, who pleaded not guilty, but ordered him to serve two more days in jail for an unrelated traffic violation. A preliminary hearing was set for July 17.
Howse's lawyer, John K. Pierson, said he considered the judge's decision to lower Cole's bail to be "very encouraging."
The prolific rapper's signature sound blends urban hip-hop with smooth harmonies reminiscent of the late Marvin Gaye. He appeared briefly in the courtroom but did not enter a plea.
Howse's arraignment was scheduled for later this month. In court, he who wore a blue Bone Thugs-N-Harmony jersey, gold crucifix and paratrooper-style pants, and quietly signed autographs.
Foltz said the LAPD's bomb squad allegedly found a home-made explosive device about 1 1/4 inches in diameter and about 3 inches long, he said.
"It was way bigger than a firecracker," the prosecutor added. "It was about four times as powerful as an M-80, and an M-80 is a pretty hot little stick by itself. It's an extremely dangerous explosive to have, especially in a residential neighborhood."
Police also found four spent 12-gauge shotgun casings in the backyard, indicating a weapon had been discharged, Foltz said.
Howse and Cole, who lives in a guest house on the Chatsworth property, were arrested early July 4 after neighbors called police to the $600,000 Hacienda-style house on Lassen Street near Topanga Boulevard.
Each man faces felony counts of possession of explosives and explosive devices and reckless discharge of a firearm.
The arrests followed weeks of mounting tension between the defendants and others in the settled, predominantly white neighborhood who complained about loud music and hearing shots fired day and night.
Pierson said Howse moved into the house in April and lives there with his wife, two children and bodyguards.
The five members of the quadruple-platinum-selling rap group grew up together in extreme poverty and practiced harmonies while selling crack cocaine on the street corners of Cleveland, according to their manager Gary Ballen. They moved to Los Angeles in 1993 in the hope of launching a music career with the late rapper Eric "Eazy-E" Wright.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony auditioned with Wright and immediately got a contract with his label, Ruthless Records.
The group won a Grammy this year for best rap performance by a duo or group for its single "Tha Crossroads."