NEW YORK Sean "Puffy" Combs pleaded innocent Monday (Feb. 7) to charges he was in illegal possession of two loaded guns while fleeing a nightspot in a sport-utility vehicle, following a triple shooting at the club in December.
The rapper and label executive, who was arraigned Monday, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on two felony charges of weapons possession. He is due back in court Thursday, according to Sarah Frank, a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.
"He's obviously very eager to clear his name," Benjamin Brafman, one of three lawyers representing Combs, said. "He is confident that once the facts are out [he'll be] completely exonerated."
Brafman has represented Mafia informant Sammy "The Bull" Gravano and New York nightclub owner Peter Gatien. Combs' other lawyers are O.J. Simpson defender Johnnie Cochran and Bronx (N.Y.) attorney Harvey Slovis.
Prosecutors say Combs and a bodyguard, Anthony Jones, were found with a loaded 9 mm handgun in the Lincoln Navigator that sped away from Club New York, following the shootings there on Dec. 27. Police stopped the car after a brief chase.
Another gun allegedly was thrown out the window.
Jones, along with Combs, was indicted on weapons charges last month, but he has yet to be arraigned or to enter a plea.
Rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, a Combs protégé, is charged with three counts of attempted murder in the shooting. Prosecutors have said Barrow opened fire in the club after a patron threw money in Combs' face.
Three people were hurt, including a 29-year-old woman, Natanya Ruben, who was shot in the face. She and fellow victim Julius Jones, 27, spent several days at St. Vincent's Hospital. A third victim, Robert Thompson, 39, refused medical treatment.
Brafman said he suspected scheduling issues would be decided in court Thursday.
Combs released his second album, Forever, in August. The LP, featuring the single "P.E. 2000" (RealAudio excerpt), debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and has since faded to #126.