"Godfather of Soul" James Brown did not start this year, as he himself
might say, "on the good foot."
On Friday, after pleading no contest to firearms charges filed in January,
the 64-year-old singer was sentenced to complete a drug treatment program
or face two years behind bars.
Brown -- the singer of such landmark soul hits as "I Got You (I
Feel Good)" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag," along with anti-drug tracks
such as "King Heroin" -- was charged with discharging a rifle while under
the influence of drugs or alcohol at his Beech Island, S.C., home in January. Last
week, in addition to the drug treatment mandate, he was handed a two-year
suspended sentence, along with a $500 fine, plus $600 in court costs.
"He has to complete a 90-day, outpatient drug-treatment program," said
Lawrence Brown (no relation), a solicitor with the Aiken County, S.C.,
prosecutor's office. "If he does not complete the program in six months,
then the two-year prison sentence can be imposed on him."
Jack Bart, James Brown's agent with Universal Attractions, had no comment
on the sentence.
Brown was arrested on Jan. 27, less than a week after he had been
discharged from a hospital where he was undergoing treatment for an
addiction to painkillers. He was admitted to the hospital under Probate
Court order, after family members became concerned for his health.
It was when Aiken County deputies arrived at Brown's house to take him to the
hospital that they discovered the evidence that led to Friday's sentence.
"They found rifles in the residence with expended cartridges, which
supported what they had been told -- that he had been discharging firearms
in the residence," solicitor Brown said. "When he was taken to the
hospital, they found drugs in his system."
As part of the county's negotiations with the singer, the prosecutor will
not disclose what drugs Brown had been taking.
Brown was also charged in January with simple possession (less than one ounce) of
marijuana, to which he pleaded guilty at an earlier court date.