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Rapper 'Puff Daddy' to Attend One-Day Class After Guilty Plea : Music: Sean Combs, facing prison on charges of assaulting Interscope record exec, admits to lesser violation.

September 09, 1999|CHUCK PHILIPS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Five months after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting a top record executive in New York, rap entrepreneur Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs pleaded guilty Wednesday to a harassment violation and was sentenced to a one-day class in anger management.

Combs--who was arrested in April on felony assault charges and faced up to seven years in prison--will pay no fine, serve no jail time and do no community service. And under New York law, a "violation" leaves him with no criminal record.

Sean Combs

The prospect of Combs' going to jail had cast doubt on the future of his Bad Boy Entertainment record label, which generated nearly $130 million last year for Bertelsmann, a Munich, Germany-based entertainment conglomerate. But sources said Wednesday that the outcome would have no effect on his relationship with Bertelsmann.

"I am happy that the court decided favorably," said the 29-year-old multimillionaire rap star, whose new "Forever" album ranks No. 8 this week on the nation's pop music chart. "I am glad to get this whole incident behind me, and now it's time for me to do what I do best: concentrate on my album and give back to my fans."

Manhattan Assistant Dist. Atty. Ina Scherl declined to comment. Wayne Brison, a spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney's office, said that "after reviewing the case, we thought this plea was appropriate."

Combs, who is chairman of Bad Boy, was arrested April 16 after he allegedly assaulted Interscope Records executive Steve Stoute during business hours at the New York office of Seagram Co.'s Universal Music Group. The altercation followed a verbal dispute over Combs' participation in a music video.

Stoute told authorities that Combs and two of his bodyguards burst into his Seagram office and repeatedly kicked and pummeled him and trashed his office.

Combs' attorney, Harvey Slovis, said the Manhattan district attorney's office warned his client several months ago that "if [Combs] didn't plead guilty to at least a misdemeanor, the [district attorney] would indict him on felony charges of assault and criminal mischief."

"The outcome of this case is a clear victory for Sean Combs," Slovis said.

One of Combs' employees also pleaded guilty to a harassment violation Wednesday. The third man allegedly involved in the beating was never apprehended.

The dynamics of the case changed in June after Combs publicly apologized and reconciled with Stoute. At the time, Combs said no money had changed hands in the reconciliation, but sources said the deal was believed to have included the promise of a future $1-million payment to Stoute.

Following the reconciliation, Stoute asked the district attorney's office not to pursue the case and told authorities he did not want Combs to be convicted of a crime, law enforcement sources said Wednesday.

Stoute, who has said he feared for his life and traveled for months with 24-hour security provided by Seagram, could not be reached for comment.

In April, sources said Seagram was weighing the possibility of suing Combs and Bertelsmann Music Group over the incident. On Wednesday, sources at Seagram's Universal Music Group said that, based on the outcome of the criminal case in New York, no civil suit is likely.

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