NEW YORK Sean "Puffy" Combs pleaded guilty to harassment Wednesday morning (Sept. 8) in New York in a case in which he had been charged with assaulting record executive Steve Stoute with a chair, a telephone and a champagne bottle.
He was ordered to participate in a one-day anger management program, after which the charge will be wiped from his record.
The superstar rapper, who had faced up to seven years in prison for the April 15 incident, admitted to the reduced charge after what his lawyer, Harvey Slovis, said was seven weeks of plea bargaining. Combs' bodyguard Paul Offord also pleaded guilty to the reduced charge.
"You have a very interesting history," Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Martin Murphy told Combs during the two-minute proceeding. "Let's hope we never meet again."
Murphy also handled a case stemming from a stampede at a 1991 charity basketball game at the City University of New York, organized by Combs and rapper Heavy D, in which nine people were killed.
Combs has said he was angry at Stoute, who is president of Interscope Records' urban-music division and a consultant to rapper Nas, over the video for Nas' "Hate Me Now" (RealAudio excerpt), in which Combs appears. In the initial version of the video, which premiered on MTV the day Combs confronted Stoute in the latter's New York office, Combs was shown hanging from a cross.
The scene was later edited out of the video, and Combs apologized to Stoute in June.
"It was so upsetting to him because he is very religious," Slovis said Wednesday.
Combs walked out of court without talking to reporters.
"He wants to move on," Slovis said. "He wants to put this thing behind him."
The lawyer said the reduced charge was an indication that prosecutors didn't see the incident as a "serious crime." He said Combs "shouldn't have lost his temper."