Puffy Allegedly Flashed Gun At GU Employee

By Jeff DeMartino Hoya Staff Writer

While rap music mogul Sean “Puffy” Combs awaits trial on weapons possession and bribery charges stemming from a December 1999 incident at a New York City nightclub, he may have to answer to a criminal record that includes past gun charges – here at Georgetown University.

The uber-producer and head of a record label that sold over $100 million of records from the mid to late 1990s – Bad Boy Entertainment – was issued an arrest warrant in February 1995 for an on-campus threat, police records have revealed. Combs, who also goes by the name Puff Daddy, was charged with flashing a gun at a Georgetown employee after a Jan. 23 incident in the New South cafeteria.

University Spokesman Dan Wackerman said that campus records show Combs was asked to leave New South for passing out promotional music material. He said that Combs was identified as the person pictured on the promotions.

But officials in the U.S. District Attorney’s office could not locate Combs’ name in relation to the 1995 incident, which they said meant that charges had been dropped. “Cancel and withdraw” is written across the warrant, followed by an illegible name identified as: “Asst. U.S. Attny, 5/4/95.”

Special Counsel Channing Phillips of the district’s U.S. Attorney’s Office said he had “no idea” why the case against Combs was dropped. Because the signature on the warrant canceling the charges appeared illegible, Phillips said he would need several days to identify the assistant U.S. attorney who dropped the charges.

Attorney Michael Warren, Combs’ lawyer at the time of the 1995 threat warrant has told wire service apbnews.com that “the case lacked merit.” Warren did not return two messages left at his office yesterday.

According to the arrest warrant, dining hall employee Mario Cruz reported that Combs entered the dining hall at about 2 p.m. on Jan. 23, 1995, with another unidentified black male. Cruz said that when he asked Combs for help, Combs cursed him. After Combs left briefly, according to the report, Cruz said that the rapper returned to ask him what time he would be leaving work. Cruz, who was unavailable for comment, told him when his shift ended. When Cruz left work at around 4 p.m., Cruz reported that he saw Combs in the parking lot outside.

“[Cruz] saw [Combs] open the front of his coat, and [Combs] displayed a silver-colored gun and smiled at [Cruz] slyly,” the warrant states.

Combs then drove off in a black automobile.

This revelation has come as Combs awaits trial for charges of bribery and weapons possession in the wake of a shooting at the Club New York nightclub in Manhattan’s Times Square. Police have said, according to news reports, that Combs fled the scene of the club after rapper and Combs protege Jamal “Shyne” Barrow fired a gun on the crowd. Police have said that Combs, his chauffeur and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez – Combs’ girlfriend – subsequently ran through 11 stoplights while fleeing in Combs’ Lincoln Navigator. Combs was charged with gun possession after a loaded 9 mm pistol was found on the floor of the truck. Last month a new indictment charged Combs with bribing a witness. According to news reports, Combs allegedly offered his chauffeur a $40,000 ring he gave to Lopez and $10,000 in cash.

Combs has pled not guilty to both charges. Combs’ current lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, did not return a message left at his office.

While both the Georgetown and the Club New York charges involve gun possession, one legal expert argued that the 1995 charge would probably be inadmissible in Combs’ current court case. Professor Paul Rothstein of the Georgetown University Law Center said that a modus operandi would have to be similar in both cases to show a pattern of behavior, even if new evidence were added to the 1995 charge.

Rothstein said that the similarities between the current gun possession charge and the ’95 threat charge probably show a pattern of character, which is inadmissible.

“Reasoning by character,” Rothstein said, “is a bad chain of inference.”

Combs, 30, whose 1997 solo album No Way Out went platinum and had two No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts, was rap’s biggest maven in the mid-1990s. But his latest solo release, “Forever,” was released to poorer sales and reviews. In 1999, the rapper pled guilty to charges that he attacked record producer Steve Stoute.

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