Nearly a year after he was alleged to have roughed up the teenage son of a business rival, all the charges against rapper Tony Yayo were dismissed on Thursday (February 14). According to a statement released by his lawyer, Scott Leemon, Yayo (born Marvin Bernard), "is no longer facing any criminal charges relating to the incident that occurred last March."
The charges of misdemeanor assault, harassment and endangering the welfare of a child were dismissed as part of a plea deal to a lesser, noncriminal harassment charge, which brought with it 10 days of community service. Leemon said the G-Unit rapper accepted the noncriminal resolution of the case to avoid the "unnecessary hardships" of a trial.
Leemon thanked the New York district attorney's office, which he said agreed with his stance from the beginning of the case, which was that, after investigating the altercation, Yayo should not be subjected to any criminal liability in the incident.
Leemon had previously told MTV News that Yayo's acquaintance Lowell "Lodi Mack" Fletcher had admitted to police in an unrelated jailhouse interview that he was the one who slapped the 14-year-old son of Jimmy "Henchman" Rosemond. (Rosemond is the co-founder of Czar Entertainment, which manages one of Yayo's rivals, former G-Unit member the Game.) In 2007, Yayo pleaded not guilty to the charges and claimed that he had actually attempted to pull Fletcher away from the teen during the incident.
"As I told you from the beginning, Tony Yayo did not hit anyone and would never do anything to harm a child," Leemon wrote in the statement. "This fact was confirmed by Mr. Fletcher when he told members of the notorious hip-hop police in August that he did this on his own. The hip-hop police buried this helpful information, and the charges against Tony Yayo proceeded until today. Without a doubt, today's proceedings have validated Mr. Bernard's claims he was falsely accused. ... All that Tony Yayo admitted to doing was getting out of the car and glaring at the victim. Once he realized what Fletcher was doing, he went and grabbed Fletcher to pull him away from the victim."
Fletcher pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child and was sentenced to nine months in prison, to run concurrently with the state prison sentence he's now serving on a narcotics charge.
Cynthia Reed, the mother of the teen involved in the case, issued a statement Thursday following the dismissal of the charges: "As much as Marvin Bernard tried to wiggle his way out of his role in assaulting my son, who is a minor, he had to accept responsibility to accept a plea deal," Reed said. "He couldn't hide behind 50 Cent, G-Unit, Violator Management or his co-defendant. This malicious crime against a child is despicable, and any industry sponsor or company that supports individuals like Tony Yayo should remove themselves from a relationship with him and his affiliated entities. Crimes against children should never be legitimized just because a person is an entertainer. A public apology is appropriate at this time, not only from Tony Yayo, but from 50 Cent for denying this event ever happened — as if my son was lying when all along they knew this assault had taken place."
At press time, a spokesperson for the New York Police Department had no comment on the allegations regarding the burying of evidence by the hip-hop squad (which the NYPD has never confirmed exists).