Cardi B pleads not guilty to strip club fight charges

She initially faced misdemeanor charges of assault and reckless endangerment, but was indicted by a grand jury on felony charges earlier this month
Image: US-MUSIC-COURT-CARDIB
Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B arrives for her arraignment in Queens, New York, on June 25, 2019 for charges stemming from a fight last year at a New York City strip club.Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images

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By Janelle Griffith

Cardi B pleaded not guilty in court on Tuesday to felony assault charges stemming from two alleged premeditated attacks on two women at a New York City strip club in August.

The Grammy Award-winning rapper, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, wore a blue and pink pantsuit for the appearance at New York Supreme Court in the borough of Queens, where she was arraigned with two others on a 12-count indictment that includes two charges of felony attempted assault.

She was met by cheers and shouts of "Free Cardi" as she entered the courthouse.

"Not guilty, sir, honor," Cardi told the judge during the hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes.

The Bronx native and two others, Tawana Jackson-Morel, 36, and Jeffrey Bush, 34, both of Brooklyn, face multiple charges, including misdemeanor reckless endangerment, criminal solicitation, conspiracy, harassment, and assault, as well as two counts of felony attempted assault with intent to cause serious physical injury. Jackson-Morel and Bush also pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the charges.

Cardi initially faced misdemeanor charges of assault and reckless endangerment, but was indicted by a grand jury on felony charges earlier this month. She rejected a plea deal in April.

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Authorities allege on Aug. 15, 2018, Bush recorded an attack carried out by unidentified females on a bartender at Angels NYC in Queens as she prepared drinks and used his body to attempt to block anyone from intervening. Cardi was present that night at the club, according to the indictment.

Prior to the alleged attack, Cardi and Jackson-Morel chatted on a social media platform and allegedly coordinated the attack and the intended target, the indictment states.

They also allegedly discussed money being exchanged for carrying out the alleged assault.

Authorities allege Cardi, Jackson-Morel and Bush were involved in another melee on Aug. 29, 2018, at the same club. Jackson-Morel allegedly threw a cocktail into the face of another bartender, the sister of the bartender attacked on Aug. 15, 2018.

According to the indictment, Bush, Jackson-Morel and Cardi herself⁠ — as well as several others ⁠— also threw drinks, glass bottles and various objects at the bartender. The bartender sustained lacerations to her legs, bruises to her feet and her eyes were irritated by the alcohol thrown in her face, the indictment states.

The defendants allegedly coordinated the second assault, as well, the indictment states.

"This kind of violence won’t be tolerated in our community," Acting Queens District Attorney John M. Ryan said in a statement Tuesday. "The defendants will be held accountable for their alleged actions."

The defendants were released on their own recognizance. If convicted, they could face up to four years in prison.

Cardi did not comment as she exited the courthouse.

A short time after her appearance, a tweet was sent from her account promoting the release of her latest music video for the song "Press."