Judge to Meek Mill: Your people need to call our people
Mar 15, 2013 (The Philadelphia Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
For touring musical performers, it seems, an entourage is indispensable.
It's there for emotional and moral support, arrange transportation and lodging, deal with promoters and concert managers and generally free up the artist to do what artists do.
But as rapper Meek Mill is learning, your peeps aren't necessarily much good in dealing with your probation officer.
So it was the troubled relationship between Meek Mill -- alias 25-year-old Robert Williams of North Philadelphia -- and Philadelphia probation officer Treas Underwood was the subject of another lengthy hearing this morning before Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley.
"You folks are just going to have to work it out," said Brinkley, visibly miserable from a bad cold and sounding more like a marriage counselor than judge.
Mill is a rap phenom who many in the business believe is the "next big thing."
His life is a series of concerts, studio sessions and promotions that take him all over the world with frequent last-minute schedule changes.
Problem is that federal law requires Underwood to be aware of Mill's whereabouts at all times -- especially if he's outside Philadelphia.
And, says Underwood, neither Williams/Mill nor his people have been consistently letting her know where he is or will be until after he gets there.
Underwood and Assistant District Attorney Noel A. DeSantis told Brinkley that Williams seems unable to follow the basic rules of a probationer.
"This is not Miami, this is not Los Angeles, this is Philadelphia," DeSantis said.
Williams, on probation from a 2008 drug and gun conviction, told Brinkley he believes Underwood is just trying to make his life tough because they knew each other growing up in the same North Philly neighborhood.
"It's like a game with my life," said Williams, dressed for the hearing in black V-neck sweater and pants, white shirt and tie.
Williams said Underwood has made him wait in a public area of the probation office where he is besieged by autograph seekers and several probation officers asking him to critique their rap demo tapes.
"Celebrity cuts both ways," interjected DeSantis, who added that Williams' use of Twitter to criticize her and Underwood had resulted in anonymous death threats.
The judge told Mill it was like "shouting fire in a crowded theater.
"You need to take off your hat as Meek Mill and put on your hat as John Doe unknown person and do what you're supposed to do," the judge told Williams.
Brinkley outlined some new guidelines for Williams to follow and set a status hearing on June 28.
It could have been worse. Brinkley found Williams in violation of his probation but did not order him to prison. The judge said she believes much of Mill's problems stem from "miscommunication" and added, "I want to work from this point forward."
And the judge ruled that Williams did not violate his probation when he was on a tour bus belonging to rapper French Montana on Feb. 28.
The bus was parked outside a hotel on Columbus Boulevard near the Ben Franklin Bridge after a nearby concert when a drive-by gunman fired into a crowd outside killing a New York man.
Williams' attorney, Gary Silver, called Williams a "victim, he could have been a victim." Silver said the bus' interior was so soundproof people inside didn't hear the shooting.
But Brinkley also rejected Williams' lawyers request for a new probation officer and more flexible reporting rules.
"That's not going to happen," Brinkley added.
Contact Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @joeslobo on Twitter.
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