Rapper Cardi B pleads not guilty to charges in New York strip club fight

By Brendan Pierson and Shannon Stapleton
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Rapper Cardi B pleads not guilty to charges in New York strip club fight

Singer Cardi B arrives at Queens County Criminal Court in the Queens Borough of New York

By Brendan Pierson and Shannon Stapleton

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Grammy Award-winning rapper Cardi B pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to felony assault charges relating to an alleged fight at a New York City strip club last year.

The 26-year-old performer from the Bronx borough of New York City entered the plea in an appearance at New York Supreme Court in the borough of Queens.

"Not guilty sir, honour," Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, told the judge during the roughly 30 minute hearing.

As she entered the court building, wearing a navy blue and pink pantsuit and carrying a pink handbag, one fan shouted "Free Cardi B."

The singer, known for chart-topping hits "Bodak Yellow" and "I like it," waved back with a hand sporting long, pink fingernails, before being ushered into the court by her lawyer and two bodyguards.

The rapper surrendered to New York City police last October after a complaint claimed she was involved in a fight at the Angels NYC strip club in Queens.

"I ain’t going to jail, I got a daughter,” she declared near the end of her Los Angeles concert on Saturday.

Cardi B was indicted by a grand jury on felony charges earlier this month along with two other individuals in her entourage.

According to police, the rapper got into an argument in August with two of the club's female bartenders. She had accused one of them of having an affair with her husband, Offset, a member of the rap trio Migos, according to local media.

"The victims allegedly had glass bottles hurled at them, alcoholic drinks thrown in their faces and one woman's head was slammed into the bar," Acting Queens District Attorney John Ryan said in a statement. "This kind of violence won't be tolerated in our community."

Cardi B left the Queens court on Tuesday by a side door, wearing a sombre expression, briefly waving to fans before she got in a black SUV without speaking to press. Her lawyer Jeff Kern, did not respond to a request for comment.

Her latest single, "Press," is currently at 60 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Cover art for the single, in which she says "Cardi don’t need more press," shows her naked and being escorted out of a building as older, male photographers push towards her.

The next hearing in the case will be on Sept. 23 for co-defendants Tawana Jackson-Morel, 36, and Jeffrey Bush, 34, both of Brooklyn.

In an indictment made public Tuesday, Queens prosecutors claimed that Cardi B and Jackson-Morel used social media to coordinate an Aug. 15 attack on a 21-year-old bartender and discussed money payments to people who carried it out.

Several unapprehended females also assaulted the bartender, while Bush filmed the attack, according to the prosecutors.

Cardi B and Jackson-Morel took part in another attack on Aug. 29 targeting the bartender's 23-year-old sister, also a bartender at the club, the prosecutors said.

If convicted, the three defendants face up to four years in prison.


(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Shannon Stapleton in New York; writing by Andrew Hay; editing by Susan Thomas)