Public Enemy co-founder Flavor Flav pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony unlicensed driving charge and avoided a jail sentence but not a stern lecture from a judge about personal responsibility.
The hip-hop and reality television star, born William Drayton Jr. in Roosevelt, was arrested Jan. 9, 2014, after a state trooper pulled him over in Hempstead for speeding on the Meadowbrook Parkway. Drayton, 56, told the trooper he was on his way to his mother's funeral.
Drayton had 15 active driving suspensions on his record at the time of his arrest, Nassau prosecutors said. A grand jury indicted him a year later for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and other charges. His driver's license is still suspended.
Tuesday, acting Supreme Court Justice Terence P. Murphy sentenced Drayton, a Las Vegas resident, to the time served after his arrest -- several hours.
Nassau prosecutors sought a 6-month jail sentence for the felony plea. Prosecutors said they also took into account Drayton's May 21 arrest in Las Vegas on charges including driving under the influence involving cocaine and speeding, in asking for the jail time.
The unlicensed driving felony charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 4 years in jail.
Earlier, Drayton had told his attorneys he neither wanted to plead to unlicensed driving charge nor go to trial. Drayton had said he didn't "deserve a felony."
Even so, Tuesday, he expressed relief to Murphy in court that the case was finally closed.
"The only thing I want to say is just thank you for understanding, and I'm just glad that this is going to be over," Drayton told the judge before his sentencing. "It's been . . . two long years."
Murphy said he recognized that Drayton was on his way to his mother's funeral when the trooper stopped him in 2014.
"But it still doesn't give you the privilege to disobey the laws of New York State," Murphy said, adding he hoped Drayton would resolve his Las Vegas case and "then recognize and live by the creed of personal responsibility."
He urged Drayton to use his public persona to do community service to teach and send a message "that if we're going to have a world that lasts, then we all have to start pulling our own weight and accepting responsibility for everything that we do, and don't do."
After his sentencing, Drayton thanked Murphy for "being compassionate," and his attorney, Todd Greenberg of Queens, whom he called "the man."
He also thanked a State Police lieutenant from the Valley Stream station "for getting me to my mother's grave site in his own personal family car."
Drayton said he would heed Murphy's words to spread the message to "just to do the right thing."