ODB Considering Deal On N.Y. Drug Charge

If Wu-Tang rapper pleads guilty soon to possession charge, sentence will be cut in half and bail-jumping indictment dropped, his lawyer says.

If Ol' Dirty Bastard pleads guilty within the next two weeks to drug charges stemming from a 1999 arrest, the time he faces in prison could be cut in half, according to his lawyer.

The Wu-Tang Clan member, who was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree after police allegedly found 20 vials of crack on him, faces up to seven years in prison if found guilty (see "ODB Arrested In NYC On Drug, Driving Charges"). However, Queens County Assistant District Attorney Ken Holder is offering to recommend the minimum sentence for the offense — two to four years — if ODB (born Russell Jones) enters a guilty plea, the rapper's New York lawyer, Peter Frankel, said.

To further sweeten the deal, Holder, also in exchange for the rapper's admission of guilt, will waive a bail-jumping indictment that originates from ODB's failure to appear before Queens County Superior Court after escaping from a Los Angeles rehab clinic in October (see "Ol' Dirty Bastard Flees Drug-Treatment Facility"). Bail jumping carries a mandatory 18-month to three-year sentence, which would run consecutively with any jail time ODB might get on the drug charge at trial.

All deals are off, however, if ODB doesn't act quickly. The case has been stagnant for months, suffering from constant delays, and Frankel says Holder is growing increasingly anxious for the case to move forward. Although no official deadline for a plea has been set, Frankel expects Holder's offers to be retracted if no progress is made by the first week of April.

Calls to Holder were unreturned at press time.

Much of the delay in the case can be attributed to the consideration of a request that ODB serve any potential sentences in New York concurrently with a potential sentence in Los Angeles (see "ODB Court Date Postponed Until March 15"). The rapper faces a probation violation charge in L.A. and could be sent to jail for 44 months if convicted on that charge alone.

Another reason for the lag: The rapper has never been to state prison before, and is mentally shaken by the prospect. When asked what was keeping ODB from jumping all over what could be described as a gift by prosecutors, Frankel hinted at his fragile mental state by saying, "He certainly has some issues that would make this decision more difficult."

ODB doesn't have many other options. Having been previously convicted of a violent felony in 1992, he's not eligible for any drug treatment programs in New York state if the case goes to trial and he's found guilty. If he's found not guilty at trial, the district attorney can still hit him with the bail-jumping indictment — in which case he'd be doing almost the same amount of time as if he pleads guilty and takes Holder's current offer.

Frankel said he "wishes that everyone who has any interest in this thing could really know this guy, because he's just so misunderstood. He's not a bad person, he's just got a lot of issues. And he's not a violent person, he's just ... a little different."