LOS ANGELES Rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard avoided prison time after a judge decided on Friday (June 23) to return the oft-troubled Wu-Tang Clan MC to a drug treatment facility.
ODB (born Russell Tyrone Jones) was released from jail and into the custody of the Pasadena, Calif.based Impact House, where he will serve 180 days (he faced up to three years and eight months imprisonment). Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Marsha Revel agreed with defense attorney Robert Shapiro that further rehabilitation was the best course for ODB, though she warned another violation would put him back behind bars.
ODB, 31, who remains on probation, has been incarcerated in county jail since Jan. 20, when he returned to Los Angeles from a New York City court date with a bottle of cognac, allegedly drunk. That was a violation of Revel's original sentence last November after ODB was found guilty of wearing body armor and making terrorist threats forbidding ODB from using or possessing alcohol and drugs.
The rapper previously underwent treatment at Impact House, from November through January, before being released to film a video in Baltimore.
Revel had strong words for Impact House officials, whom she accused of being star-struck in their earlier dealings with ODB. "I don't know who on Earth felt it was OK to let Mr. Jones get out to film a video," she said. "No one asked me permission. How can I possibly let him be in a program where they let him do what he wants?"
Revel's revised sentence stipulates that ODB not be allowed to leave Impact House without the court's approval, which makes it unlikely he will be able to participate in the completion of Wu-Tang's third studio album, due for release this fall.
Shapiro requested the judge release his client to fulfill his "contractual obligation," but Revel refused for now.
"I won't be bad this time," ODB told the judge, asking for a reprieve. "My group has been out here two months already. We've all signed a $3 million contract, and they're waiting on me."
"You're worth waiting for, I'm sure," replied Revel, though she consented to review the request further.
Unlike past courtroom appearances, where he has picked his nose, flirted with female prosecutors, fallen asleep and shouted obscenities, ODB remained calm through the proceedings, though Deputy District Attorney Michael O'Gara criticized the rapper's lack of respect for the system.
"He's been smirking this morning," O'Gara complained, though Revel, obviously aware of ODB's past behavior, shrugged it off. In fact, the only disruption Friday morning came from ODB's brother, who, after hearing the judge's sentence, loudly grunted his displeasure, barely avoiding expulsion from the courtroom.
Diagnostic testing of ODB used as a guideline for the latest sentencing classified his intelligence as at or below average, a conclusion Revel disputed.
"I think he's very intelligent ... and highly manipulative," she said. "Mr. Jones' problem is his mouth. It doesn't mean he's crazy ... but he definitely needs [further] psychological counseling.
"You do need some help," she told the defendant, "whether you realize it or not."
ODB's legal troubles are not over, as he still faces a string of charges in New York, including possession of crack cocaine and illegally operating a vehicle. Queens Deputy District Attorney Ken Holder has predicted the sometime solo artist who released his second album, N***a Please, in September, featuring the hit "Got Your Money" (RealAudio excerpt) will be sentenced to at least two years behind bars for his alleged drug offenses.