NEW YORK - Busta Rhymes posted bail and was released Thursday after being arraigned on misdemeanor assault charges that say the hip-hop star beat a man last month in a dispute over money.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Neil Ross set Rhymes' bail at $3,500 for two third-degree assault and two lesser charges and set his next court date for Feb. 20. The judge also signed an order for Rhymes to stay away from the accuser.
The victim, a court complaint says, is Edward Hatchett, 39, Rhymes' former driver. The complaint says the 34-year-old rapper beat him "with a closed fist about the head and neck," knocked him to the ground and kicked him in the ribs and torso.
The attack, which occurred Dec. 26 outside Rhymes' office on West Broadway in lower Manhattan, left Hatchett with face and neck cuts and bruises and in substantial pain, the complaint says.
Assistant District Attorney Harrison Schweiloch told the judge the assault stemmed from a dispute over money.
Rhymes' lawyer, Robert Kalina, told the judge, "I can tell you, judge, my client is innocent, and I rarely say this in a courtroom." He added that the accuser had no discernible injuries other than one red mark on his face.
The rapper posted bail minutes after the arraignment and left the courthouse, out of the view of the news media. Another defense lawyer, Scott Leemon, said Rhymes was taken away in a Department of Correction bus. His sport utility vehicle was still parked outside the courthouse when he left.
Rhymes, whose real name is Trevor Smith, surrendered at a Manhattan police station Wednesday night and was booked on the misdemeanor charges, police Lt. John Grimpel said.
Leemon said his client had been traveling and performing in Africa and Portugal during the past week, returned to New York on Wednesday night and turned himself in as soon as he learned police were looking for him.
"Busta adamantly denies all the allegations contained in the complaint," Leemon said outside the courthouse. "We look forward to having our day in court."
Rhymes was charged with assault after an Aug. 12 performance at the AmsterJam Music Festival on Randalls Island. He also was ticketed in November after police said he was talking on his cell phone while driving past a Manhattan police station.
Police also have tried to question Rhymes as a potential witness in the shooting death last February of his bodyguard Israel Ramirez.
Rhymes' hits include "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See," "Dangerous" and "Touch It." He also has appeared in films, including "Shaft" and "Finding Forrester."
On the Net:
Busta Rhymes: http://www.bustarhymes.com/