Rick Ross enters plea deal

eouRick Ross strolled down a boat dock in Aruba Sunday afternoon, getting ready for a fun day on the water before flying back to America the next day to prepare for what he thought might be multiple grueling days at the Fayette County Court House.

“Gonna be a long week,” Ross said, as he broadcast his international adventure to his followers on Snapchat.

Ross’s week wasn’t nearly as long as he’d expected, as he and co-defendant Nadrian James entered a plea deal Tuesday before Judge W. Fletcher Sams, a no contest plea that put him and James on 60 months (five years) probation. Ross agreed to the conditions of a search clause, no drugs or excessive alcohol, anger management, no contact with the victims, and no possession of any firearm.

Ross pled no contest to the charges of aggravated assault, battery, simple assault, three counts of pointing a pistol at another and possession of marijuana less than an ounce. All of the charges, save for the marijuana charge, are from June 7, 2015, when two groundskeepers at Ross’s estate claim they were attacked by Ross and James, his bodyguard.

James entered a plea to aggravated assault, simple assault, three counts of pointing a pistol at another and driving without a license. Ross’s marijuana charge and James’s driving without a license charge stem from June 10, 2015, when Ross was pulled over in his Bentley without his license and with marijuana in the passenger seat. James had to bring Ross’s license to him that day.

Jonathan Zamudio and Leonardo Cereras, the victims in the case, were present at the Fayette County Court House Tuesday, as were other witnesses who were there at the scene of the crime, notably Cpl. Stephen Fluegeman with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.

While the afternoon was filled with private discussions and negotations, Tuesday morning’s motions hearing carried on as planned. Fluegeman, who was the responding officer to the 911 call on June 7, described to both the prosecuting attorney, Michele McCutcheon, and Ross’s attorney, Steven Sadow, what he saw when he went to Ross’s Fayetteville estate on the day of the alleged attack.

Fluegeman met Zamudio at Our Lady of Mercy Church across the street from the estate and Fluegeman followed Zamudio’s UHaul onto the property in his patrol car. He met Cereras at the guest house and saw something that wasn’t right.

“I noticed he was bleeding from the right side of his head,” Fluegeman said.

But Cereras was hesitant to say his injuries were someone else’s doing.

“Maybe I bumped it,” Fluegeman recalled Cereras saying.

After Fluegeman reassured Zamudio and Ceceras he was here to help, Zamudio told him that Ross and James had “pistol-whipped” them.

Fluegeman explained pictures he took on his phone that day of blood droplets in the garage and kitchen area of the guest house. He described the layout of the bedroom, where the altercation supposedly began. Sadow pressed Fluegeman on his decision to take certain pictures and leave other pictures out.

“You didn’t take a single picture from inside the bedroom, correct?” Sadow said.

“Correct.”

“Why?”

Fluegeman responded that it was dark in the bedroom so the blood droplets would not have shown up well in pictures, but that it was not completely pitch black in the room, a claim made in a previous hearing by Sadow describing Ross’s side of the story.

Fluegeman also presented pictures he took of Zamudio’s injuries, including a black eye, fingernail scratch, cuts on his inner lip and one a few days later of a bruise on Zamudio’s sternum where he said he had a gun jammed into his chest.

The two sides broke for lunch, and court was scheduled to resume at 1 p.m., with Tyler Simpson of the Fayetteville Police Department scheduled to testify. Simpson had been on call with Fluegeman that day and was present when Ross got pulled over for a window tint on June 10 that ended up being a misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana.

Ross and his group of supporters behind him were ready to resume the case, but both side’s lawyers were absent. Ross, his lawyers, and family were led into a private room to discuss the next option. Although Ross had been quiet in court, Ross could be seen through a glass wall passionately speaking to the group eager to do something.

Hours later, the decision had been made.

“No contest, nolo,” Ross said in response to how he plead.

The two sides came to a negotiation, and although Ross and James still have some limitations with their probation, it was a decision worth celebrating for Ross. He was able to finally rid himself of his ankle monitor Tuesday night, freeing himself of a reminder of how long the case has taken to come to some sort of resolution.

He’s not completely free to do whatever he wants yet, but the famous rapper usually has plenty of places to be. Since he had scheduled to be in court all week, he’s got the rest of the week to do almost anything he chooses.

“Guess what man?” Ross said on his Snapchat Tuesday night. “I’m having a pool party tomorrow!”

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About

Justin Fedich is a reporter for the Fayette County News. He has been a reporter for various papers around the Southeast, including the Athens Banner-Herald and the Selma Times-Journal. Justin is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a degree in digital and broadcast journalism and a sports media certificate.


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