Trey Anastasio is down with disease. And he's doing everything in his power to get better.
The ex-Phish guitarist pleaded not guilty Tuesday in upstate New York to a slew of new drug charges stemming from a December bust for driving under the influence of prescription medication.
Per the Burlington Free Press, Anastasio appeared in a Washington County Court in Fort Edward and was arraigned in seven-count indictment. Among the most serious allegations Anastasio is facing are three felony counts of illegally possession of prescription painkillers and driving while impaired. The "Sample in a Jar" rocker is also charged with illegally possessing heroin and a prescription painkiller belonging to someone else, both misdemeanors.
Anastasio, who splits his time between New York City and a house in Richmond, Vermont, turned up at Tuesday's hearing accompanied by his wife, Susan and his attorney, Steve Coffey. He said little other than stating his name and agreeing to Judge Kelly McKeighan's request for a pre-plea report to "help you resolve your case."
The singer and guitarist, born Ernest Joseppe Anastasio III, was pulled over in the village of Whitehall in the wee hours of Dec. 15 after police witnessed his 2004 Audi drifting across the road. He flubbed a field sobriety test and was taken into custody.
A search of his vehicle turned up an unspecified amount of the painkillers hydrocodone and Percocet and the anti-anxiety medicationa Xanax—all prescribed to another person, according to the police report—and a white powdery substance which later turned out to be heroin. The 42-year-old musician was also driving with a suspended New York license after failing to answer a previous traffic violation.
Immediately following the arrest, Anastasio expressed regret over the incident and apologized for "any embarrassment I have caused my friends, family and fans."
In the days since, the Phish mastermind completed a 28-day rehabilitation program last month at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Center, a drug-treatment facility in Antigua briefly attended by Britney Spears. After checking out, Anastasio appeared at a Q&A with Rolling Stone critic Anthony DeCurtis in New York and briefly addressed fans' concerns about his struggle with drugs. He confirmed that he actually thanked his arresting officer, but declined to speak any further, citing legal reasons.
Anastasio previously pleaded innocent to lesser charges on Jan. 5, but District Attorney Kevin Kortright brought the case before a grand jury, which indicted him two weeks ago on the more serious charges.
All told, the counts carry a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. But, according to his lawyer, Anastasio would be amenable to a plea deal and would be willing to enter a court-mandated drug-treatment program to avoid jail time.
"The hope is he will go on with his life and not have any incarceration," Coffey told reporters outside the courthouse. "He has a narcotic problem, and he's dealt with that, and he's working on that. He's led an exemplary life.
"He told me, 'I'm here to face the consequences and work it out with the court and go on with my life,' " Coffey continued, adding that Anastasio would "do whatever he has to do" to atone for his screw-up.
As Anastasio exited the courthouse and got into a chaueffered black van without talking to the media, a half-dozen Phishheads who attended the proceedings shouted words of encouragement.
Since Phish played its final concert in the summer of 2004, Anastasio has been working on his solo career. He released his latest album, Bar 17, on his Rubber Jungle Records in the fall, followed by a highly successful tour.
The next hearing in his drug case is scheduled for Mar. 27.