Attorney says hip-hop artist Nelly innocent of drug charges in Tennessee –

Updated at 1 p.m. Sunday

The attorney for rapper and reality TV star Nelly said his client is innocent of drug charges filed against him in Tennessee on Saturday.

“I think when the facts comes out, the alleged contraband will not be associated with Nelly,” prominent defense attorney Scott Rosenblum said Sunday morning. “I feel strongly about that.”

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Haynes Jr., was pulled over in his tour bus because the vehicle did not display required federal transportation and fuel tax stickers.

The bus was stopped about halfway between Nashville and Knoxville. Troopers said Nelly was one of six people on board.

A trooper said he smelled marijuana on the bus. A subsequent search of the vehicle turned up a plastic bag that contained five colored crystal-type rocks that tested positive for methamphetamine, as well as a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, troopers said.

They said they also found approximately 100 small plastic bags commonly associated with the sale of narcotics; and numerous handguns, including a gold-plated .50-caliber Desert Eagle pistol, a .45-caliber Taurus pistol and a .500 Magnum Smith & Wesson.

Nelly, 40, a St. Louis native, was charged with felony possession of drugs, simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Also on the bus was Brian Jones, 44, of St. Louis. He was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm.

In 2012, Jones was with Nelly and others when the rapper’s tour bus was stopped at a West Texas border checkpoint. Police in Texas said they found a small amount of heroin, about 10 pounds of pot and a loaded gun on the bus.

Nelly was detained at the time but released after Jones admitted that the drugs and the gun belonged to him.

Rosenblum said Nelly and his entourage were returning to St. Louis from a show on the East Coast — “I think the show was in North Carolina,” he said — when they were pulled over in Tennessee.

“I talked to Nelly late last night and he adamantly denied that the drugs were his,” Rosenblum said, adding, “The drugs were not on him.”

Rosenblum said the tour bus had served as a party scene immediately after the North Carolina concert.

“Nelly is obviously the owner of the bus, but there were at least five other people in the bus (when it was pulled over) and 15 to 20 people had partied on it in the hours leading up to the arrest,” he said.

Rosenblum said police in Tennessee told him that the crystal-type drugs that troopers said they found on the tour bus were not methamphetamine.

“It was ‘X’ or MDMA or ‘Molly,’ as the college kids call it,” Rosenblum said. MDMA, widely referred to as ecstasy, is consumed primarily for its euphoric effects. It is illegal nationwide.

Tennessee officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.

Nelly and Jones were taken to the Putnam County Jail. The four others on the bus were not charged.

Nelly, 40, and Jones, 44, were released from the jail after each posted $10,000 bond.

“They weren’t detained for very long,” Rosenblum said.

As to potential penalties Nelly faces, the attorney said, “We’re still sorting through that. I haven’t received the charging documents yet.”

Nelly’s reality show “Nellyville” is scheduled to return for a second season on cable’s BET with new episodes beginning on May 5.

On the show, the rapper is presented as a family man first, overseeing his two children and his sister’s children, while also juggling his relationship with Shantel Jackson and the demands of his career.

Rosenblum would not disclose Nelly’s whereabouts on Sunday, other than to say, “Nelly’s going about his business.”

The Chattanooga Times Free Press contributed to this report.


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