Puff Daddy Could face Bribery Charge

Puffy accused of trying to bribe his driver after Club New York shooting

February 11, 2000 12:00 AM ET

During a bail hearing this morning, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos argued that Sean "Puffy" Combs, back in court for the second time this week, offered his driver a bribe, as he attempted to avoid being arrested on the weapons charges he currently faces.

According to a spokesperson for the D.A.'s office, Bogdanos' accusation came during a forty-minute speech laying out the reasons why the office wants Combs' bail to be raised from the initial $10,000 he laid out in December to $150,000. Among those reasons was the allegation that, after he was taken into police custody on Dec. 27, Combs was overheard offering $50,000 to Wardel Fenderson, the driver of the car that carried Combs, Jennifer Lopez and bodyguard Anthony Jones away from the scene of a shooting at Club New York, in exchange for Fenderson's saying that the gun found in the car was his.

"I do not believe that there was any effort by Mr. Combs or anyone else to bribe anyone," Combs' lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said this afternoon. "I do not believe that any additional charges should be filed. And if they are filed, we will vigorously defend against them."

The D.A.'s office maintains that at this point they are merely trying to insure that Combs will continue to appear at his court dates, and that's why they're demanding an increased bail. "The defendants' [Combs, Jones and Jamal "Shyne" Barrow] actions in the case shows them behaving in a criminal, brazen, arrogant fashion," said the spokesperson. "When you have a certain type of record, your desire to return [to court] is lessened. If you have a prior criminal history in which you've fled when you were bench warranted, or if you have a kind of criminal record in which the criminal behavior is escalating, we want the court to be aware of it."

"I don't think there's any legitimate concern that Mr. Combs would not be returning to court," says Brafman. "I don't believe there's any basis to raise his bail, and I believe when the court carefully reviews the application, [the judge] will deny it."

The judge has reserved his decision on the bail application until Feb. 22.

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