Flavor Flav pleads not guilty to charges laid while speeding to mother's funeral
Flavor Flav of Public Enemy performs during the Virgin Mobile Freefest concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., Aug. 30, 2009. (AP / Steve Ruark)
Frank Eltman, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, January 28, 2014 12:25PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 28, 2014 3:35PM EST
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Flavor Flav pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from a traffic stop earlier this month as he raced to his mother's funeral in suburban New York.
State police said the rapper and reality TV star, whose real name is William Drayton, was speeding and driving without a license, a felony, on Jan. 9 as he drove on the Meadowbrook Parkway not far from where the Freeport, N.Y., native grew up. He was ticketed and told to appear for his arraignment Tuesday.
His attorney, Indji Bessim, told Nassau County District Court Judge Norman St. George that over the past several days she and her client have worked to clear up the 16 outstanding traffic matters that sparked the unlicensed driving charge.
The judge released Drayton without bail, although the rapper has not been in custody, and scheduled a return court date for Friday, as is routine following an arraignment.
Wearing his trademark clock around his neck -- removing it to pass through metal detectors walking into the courthouse -- Drayton smiled and hugged relatives and fans, stopping once or twice to sign an autograph or have a photo taken with a fan.
As he exited the courtroom following the brief proceeding, Drayton told reporters: "God is good. G-I-G."
He told reporters later that he hoped the charges would eventually be dismissed.
"I'm hoping they would have a heart and dismiss it all because of the circumstances," he said. "Because if it wasn't for me driving to my mother's funeral and being late getting to my mother's funeral, I wouldn't have been behind the wheel in the first place to get the charge."
He criticized the unidentified state trooper who made the arrest for being unconcerned about his plight, but then praised other troopers, whom he said helped him eventually get to his mother's funeral. Anna Drayton died Dec. 31.
The entertainer's New York case is being watched closely by a prosecutor in Las Vegas, where Drayton now lives. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond pending trial April 28 in Nevada state court on charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon and child endangerment with a weapon. Those charges could get him up to 12 years in prison.
He is accused of threatening his longtime girlfriend's then-17-year-old son with a butcher knife during a family argument. Terms of his release from jail included a requirement to stay out of trouble.
Drayton's lawyer in Las Vegas, Kristina Wildeveld, said she didn't think the New York case should affect his Nevada case.
Flavour Flav was inducted last year with the rap group Public Enemy into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.