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Rapper Flavor Flav heading to trial with a new attorney

A file photo shows William Drayton, Jr., better

A file photo shows William Drayton, Jr., better known by his stage name Flavor Flav, appearing in the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola on Friday, May 16, 2014 . Credit: Howard Schnapp

Roosevelt-born rapper Flavor Flav is headed to trial on driving offenses stemming from a traffic stop on the way to his mother's funeral last year -- and he will be on his third attorney.

State Police arrested the entertainer, whose real name is William Drayton Jr., on Jan. 9, 2014, and charged him with speeding on the Meadowbrook Parkway in Hempstead and driving with a suspended license, among other offenses. He was indicted a year later on a felony charge of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and other charges.

But the case is at an impasse. Prosecutors want Drayton, a Las Vegas resident, to plead to the felony, with a recommended 6 months incarceration. Drayton neither wanted to plead to the felony nor go to trial, Rockville Centre attorney Michael DerGarabedian told Nassau County Court Judge Terrence Murphy.

Murphy said Tuesday the court had accommodated Drayton's schedule, but those accommodations will cease because the case hadn't moved forward for months. Murphy set an Aug. 10 date for a pretrial hearing. "There will be no adjournment," he said.

In court, Drayton said he no longer wanted DerGarabedian to represent him. "I'm not comfortable with the way that this is going right now," Drayton told Murphy.

Bronx attorney Indji Bessim had initially represented Drayton, 56.

Assistant District Attorney Stefanie Palma said prosecutors had discussed with DerGarabedian a possible misdemeanor plea, with 200 hours of community service to include talking to high school students and telling them it is "a criminal act to drive a car in this state when you're not permitted to do so," if he cleared up his license problems. But Drayton, who had 15 active suspensions at the time of his arrest, still has one revocation and one suspension active from then, she said. Also, he was arrested in May in Las Vegas, she said.

Drayton was arrested when he was pulled over on a freeway on-ramp on May 21 near McCarran International Airport after driving 87 mph in a 65 mph zone, authorities said.

Prosecutors in Nevada charged Drayton on July 16 with driving under the influence involving cocaine, speeding and having an open container of alcohol.

Palma said because Drayton "has not learned his lesson at all and the case is a year-and-a-half old, the people are not making an offer now nor will they ever make an offer."

Drayton told his attorney: "I don't deserve a felony." Drayton declined to comment after court and was visibly upset Tuesday.

He was a member of the Roosevelt rap group Public Enemy. The group, which also includes Chuck D, Terminator X and Professor Griff, debuted in 1987 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in June 2013.

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