Nelly Cuts Plea Deal on Drug Charges in Tennessee—Get the Details

Plus, find out what the rapper’s lawyer said

By Corinne Heller Dec 14, 2015 11:00 PMTags
Nelly, Cornell Haynes, Mug ShotPutnam County Sheriff's Office

UPDATE: The felony drug charge was dropped after Nelly pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The rapper will be able to have the conviction wiped from his record after 11 months of probation.

"We were confident from the onset of the charges that Nelly would be cleared and we are pleased with the outcome of dismissed charges," attorney Scott Rosenblum said in a statement obtained by E! News. "It was stated in open court that there was never any methamphetamines on his bus and absolutely no evidence present to pursue felony charges against rap super-star- Nelly. As for the misdemeanor consumption charge, Nelly took a diversion which means his record will be cleared of any misdemeanor charges."

"I would like to thank my attorney Scott Rosenblum and the people of Tennessee  for a very fair outcome," Nelly added.


Nelly was arrested on felony drug charges in Tennessee on Saturday after authorities said they found drugs, including meth and marijuana, and handguns in the bus he was riding in.

The 40-year-old rapper, known for hit tracks such as "E.I.," "Shake Ya Tailfeather" and "Hot in Herre," and another passenger, Brian Jones, were detained at Putnam County Jail and released later that day after posting 10,000 bail, NBC News quoted jail officials as saying.

Nelly's lawyer, Scott Rosenblum, said in a statement to the ouetlet that "We are extremely confident that when the facts come out, Nelly will not be associated with the contraband that was allegedly discovered."

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOS) said in a statement that the rapper, whose real name is Cornell Haynes, was charged with felony possession of drugs, simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Jones is accused of possessing a handgun as a convicted felon. He has not commented.

TDOS said in the statement that a state trooper stopped a Prevost motor coach bus the two were riding in on Interstate 40, a highway that connects Nashville and Knoxville, for "failure to display a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and International Fuel Tax Association (IFTA) sticker on the vehicle." He smelled pot emitting from the bus, the statement said. The trooper, assisted by another one, then "conducted a probable cause search" of the vehicle.

"The troopers discovered in the sleeper area a plastic bag that contained five colored crystal-type rocks that tested positive for methamphetamine, as well as a small amount of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia," police said.

"Allegedly, a small quantity of contraband (MDMA aka Molly or Ecstasy) was discovered during the routine search," Nelly's lawyer said in his statement.

Authorities also said that "further investigation revealed approximately 100 small Ziploc bags that are 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 and Wesson."

Six people in total were on the bus at the time of the arrests, they added. Nelly's lawyer said that "there had been 15-20 people that had access to the bus prior to the stop." The rapper had on Friday performed at the North Carolina Azalea Festival in Wilmington.

In 2012, at a border patrol checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas, police had also stopped a bus carrying Nelly and several other people on suspicion of possessing 36 Ziploc bags of heroin, as well as pot and a loaded .45 caliber pistol. The rapper was not arrested.

(Originally published April 12, 2015, at 9:42 a.m. PT)

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