Big Pun, Fat Joe To Answer Puerto Rican Day Beating Charges

Accused of clubbing and robbing a man during a New York parade, the rappers are scheduled to face a judge Oct. 16.

Rappers Big Punisher and Fat Joe are scheduled to answer second-degree

assault and robbery charges in a Bronx, N.Y., courtroom Oct. 16, in

connection with an incident in which the two heavyweight rappers are

accused of beating a man and stealing his gold chain.

The duo is alleged to have clubbed a man with a baseball bat and stolen his

gold chain at a Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York on July 14, according

to Gloria Cullen, a spokeswoman with the Bronx district attorney's office.

Big Punisher, 26 (born Christopher Rios), and Fat Joe, 28 (born Joe

Cartagena), were arrested Tuesday on assault and robbery charges stemming

from the alleged incident, which prosecutors claim took place at the corner

of Willis and 132 Street on the afternoon that the rappers appeared on a

float in the Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Fat Joe was arrested at 6:30 p.m., after an autograph-signing session at an

HMV music store on W. 34th Street in the Bronx. According to Roberto

Goodin, the store's urban-music supervisor, the rapper was informed during

the signing that police were going to arrest him as soon as he left the

store.

"The police were real gentlemen about it," Goodin said. "They allowed him

to sit and sign things for all his fans and then walked him out without

[handcuffs] on ... " and into a waiting police car.

"It was pretty low-profile, the way they did it," Goodin recalled. "None of

the fans knew about it, and everything happened pretty peacefully."

About two hours later, Big Punisher turned himself in to officers at the

Bronx's 40th District police station, according to police spokesman Charles

Larken. Both rappers were released on their own recognizance after being

charged with second-degree robbery and assault.

Representatives for Loud Records, Big Punisher's label, and Atlantic

Records, Fat Joe's label, had no comment on the arrests.

Big Punisher's Capital Punishment was released on April 28 and hit

#5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in its first week of release,

spurred on by the success of

HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Big_Punisher/I'm_Not_A_Player.ram">"I'm

Not A Player" (RealAudio excerpt) and its remix, "Still Not A

Player." The album currently is lodged at #62.

Fat Joe's third album, Don Cartagena, has sold 108,000 copies since

debuting last week at #8 on the Billboard 200. It features

appearances by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Big Punisher.

In a recent SonicNet chat, Combs discussed the legal woes of such rappers

as Fat Joe and Big Pun. "I think personally that those are all isolated

incidents," Combs said. "I can't comment on each individual situation,

although I don't think it is representative of hip-hop as a whole."

"I don't think hip-hop has ever had an outlaw mentality," he continued. "I

think hip-hop is like rock 'n' roll. [It's] a rebellious and aggressive

music at times, but the music is a reflection of society."

The arrest of Big Punisher is the latest in a series of setbacks for the

popular rapper. His appearance at the Puerto Rican Day Parade was one of

the first by the 300-plus-pound rapper since being ordered by his doctors

to rest when a grueling promotions schedule led to a case of exhaustion.

In July, a member of Big Punisher's security team was arrested for

discharging a firearm in a building after allegedly firing shots from a 9

mm handgun into the air to calm an unruly crowd during a Big

Punisher/Xzibit show at the Industry nightclub in Pontiac, Mich.

The latter case goes to trial Oct. 13, just three days before Big Punisher

and Fat Joe will be in court in the Bronx.