Cardi B pleads guilty to two misdemeanours in 2018 strip club attacks, avoids jail time

US rapper and songwriter Cardi B (in white) appears at Queens County Criminal Court in New York on Sept 15, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK – Four years after being charged with felony assault stemming from a pair of strip club brawls, Cardi B, the American rapper and pop star born Belcalis Almanzar, pleaded guilty on Thursday in a Queens, New York City court to two misdemeanours.

The 29-year-old admitted to orchestrating and participating in the attacks on two employees of Angels in the neighbourhood of Flushing, after offering US$5,000 (S$7,042) to an associate over Instagram to help her and others confront the pair.

The authorities said at the time that the victims, who are sisters, were romantic rivals possibly involved with Cardi B’s husband, American rapper Offset. The power couple share two children, aged four and one.

With the trial set to begin on Thursday, prosecutors said in court that they had reached a deal with the musician and two co-defendants.

Cardi B was sentenced to 15 days of community service and the two victims were granted a full order of protection for three years. 

“Part of growing up and maturing is being accountable for your actions,” she said in a statement sent by a representative after the hearing. “As a mother, it’s a practice that I am trying to instil in my children, but the example starts with me.”

She added: “I’ve made some bad decisions in my past that I am not afraid to face and own up to. These moments don’t define me and they are not reflective of who I am now. I’m looking forward to moving past this situation with my family and friends and getting back to the things I love the most – the music and my fans.”

As part of Cardi B’s plea, which covered one count of third-degree assault and one count of second-degree reckless endangerment, she was made to confirm details of the fights, which she did quietly.

Prosecutors said that on two separate nights in August 2018, she arrived at the club after 3am with others in tow. On one occasion, the group struck the victim, a bartender, pulling her hair, punching her and slamming her head into the bar. Two weeks later, they returned, throwing alcohol and bottles at the first victim’s sister, another bartender.

The original indictment in the case included two felonies and 12 charges in all, including harassment, criminal solicitation and conspiracy. The other 10 counts were dismissed on Thursday.

The redhead rap queen, wearing a cream-coloured Proenza Schouler dress, was joined in court by multiple lawyers, including Mr Drew Findling, a prominent figure in hip-hop circles who is also defending former United States president Donald Trump in a criminal inquiry into election interference in the US state of Georgia.

Cardi B departs Queens County Criminal Court in New York on Sept 15, 2022. AFP

Mr Findling, known to his many rapper clients as the #BillionDollarLawyer, said on the courthouse steps following the plea deal that the resolution allowed Cardi B to move on.

“We’re talking about a life of being happily married with two beautiful children,” he said, pointing also to her charitable giving and commercial success. “There are too many things that she has planned for her family, for her career and for the community. She just felt quite honestly that a three-week jury trial was going to be a distraction.” NYTIMES

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