Daddy Under the Gun

Publicly, Rap Mogul Won’t Beg; Quietly, He Pleads

Barring a last-minute plea bargain, Bogdanos will maintain in court that Combs had guns with him the night he went to Club New York. In the narrative of events he has laid out, Bogdanos claims that shortly before 3 a.m. on December 27, police officers Paul Franco and John Murtagh "heard three or four gunshots" which had been fired inside the trendy nightspot. After calling for backup, Officer William Meyer and Sergeant Jack Konstantinidis sped to the corner of 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue and set up a roadblock.

Meyer, according to Bogdanos, "watched as a Lincoln Navigator with darkly tinted windows" sped away from the nightclub, dodging the roadblock by driving onto the sidewalk. As the SUV "turned right onto Eighth Avenue, running every red light," someone tossed a 9-mm handgun out of a passenger-side window. The vehicle was cut off by a patrol car at 54th Street and Eighth Avenue. Cops, Bogdanos says, "ordered the driver and passengers to exit the vehicle one at a time and in the following order: Wardel Fenderson (driver), Jennifer Lopez (rear seat behind driver), Sean Combs (rear seat behind passenger), and Anthony Jones (front seat passenger)." While other officers searched the SUV, the prosecutor claims, Meyer observed the handle of a 9-mm automatic "in plain view sticking out from under the front passenger seat."

Brafman insisted in an interview with AP that Combs "had nothing whatsoever to do with the shooting in Club New York." How is it, Brafman and Cochran argue in court papers, that Sergeant Konstantinidis, who had tailed the Lincoln Navigator from the time it left the club, did not report seeing a gun being ditched? The lawyers point out that "a bizarre series of events" led to the discovery of another gun, tied to Combs, two days after the incident. "This 'second' weapon is not connected to any of the defendants in this case through forensic evidence, fingerprints, or any other scientific test, nor has any witness been able specifically to identify this particular weapon as ever having been in the actual . . . possession of any of the defendants in this case."

Brafman and Cochran have challenged the prosecution's claim that a "street person" saw a "male black" hand throw the gun from the rear passenger seat of the Lincoln Navigator—the seat allegedly occupied by Combs. This "street person" later gave the gun to a friend. "That friend is apparently a career informant who was working with a task force of federal and city agents involved in the investigation of organized crime," the attorneys explain. "Subsequently, this professional informant, in turn, gave the weapon to Detective Andrew Vargas, who lists his law enforcement address [as] 26 Federal Plaza—the building in which the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is located."

The buzz in hip hop is that the debonair, soft-spoken "Puff Daddy" can't handle a long prison term. So should the multi-millionaire gamble with Manhattan's notorious hanging jurors or should he punk out? Should he cut a deal? Just for the sake of his oldest sons Justin, 6, and Quincy, 8, who he says can't bear to see him in handcuffs? "I would never take a plea," Combs told AP in an interview last month with Brafman at his side. "Never take a plea." Publicly, he won't beg; quietly, he pleads.

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