Rapper Vanilla Ice in plea deal over Florida theft charge
ORLANDO – Rapper Vanilla Ice avoided prosecution in Florida on Thursday after agreeing to a plea deal over a grand theft charge, his attorney said.
“He’s pretty thrilled. He’s never really been in trouble like this before so obviously he was nervous,” said defence lawyer Bradford Cohen of Fort Lauderdale.
The rapper, whose real name is Robert Van Winkle, appeared in Palm Beach County Court on Thursday where he agreed to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $1,333 to the estate of a neighbour in Lantana for allegedly stealing furniture and pool equipment, according to the pre-trial intervention deal.
Van Winkle also must acknowledge that he is guilty of the crime, but the charge will be dismissed and he will have no criminal record upon completing terms of the agreement, Cohen said.
The grand theft charge was a third-degree felony which carried a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The 47-year-old musician turned reality television star, who famously rapped that “anything less than the best is a felony” in his 1990s hit song “Ice Ice Baby,” said at the time of his arrest in February that the situation had been “overblown.”
The rapper’s home currently is under construction and also is the site of his latest venture, a reality TV show for the DIY Network called “The Vanilla Ice Project.”
Cohen said Van Winkle is happy to have the charge resolved before the kickoff of season five of his television series.
Van Winkle, who is also a general contractor, regularly performs community service, his lawyer said, including a project two weeks ago to build a swimming pool for a quadriplegic firefighter.
His community service under the plea deal must take place at a Habitat for Humanity project in Palm Beach County.
At the time of his arrest, Van Winkle also was accused of burglary although prosecutors never formally filed that charge.
Van Winkle all along said the incident was a misunderstanding. Cohen said most of the items he was accused of stealing had been left outside the home by squatters who had been vandalising the unoccupied property. – Reuters