Upholding the terms of a January plea bargain that allowed DMX (real name: Earl Simmons) to avoid prison, a New Jersey judge agreed to allow the rapper to lend his voice to public service announcement

Upholding the terms of a January plea bargain that allowed DMX (real name: Earl Simmons) to avoid prison, a New Jersey judge agreed to allow the rapper to lend his voice to public service announcements against animal abuse as part of his sentence for animal cruelty. DMX will make the radio announcements for the Humane Society of the United States. He also will pay production costs estimated at $20,000 under the sentence imposed Friday by state Superior Court Judge Donald R. Venezia.

"He speaks to a generation. He's a talented man, and he'll use his talents for good," said his lawyer, Brian J. Neary.

Venezia also put DMX on probation for a year and ordered him to pay $13,000 in fines for the 13 counts of animal cruelty to which he pleaded guilty, and $2,000 in fines for a disorderly conduct count and a drug paraphernalia count.

Under the deal, prosecutors dropped weapons and child endangerment charges against his wife, Tashera Simmons. Those charges each carry a maximum prison term of up to 10 years. The couple had lived in Teaneck and now live in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

The couple was going to trial, but the case fell apart when a key prosecution witness -- Tashera's mother, Marcia Tate -- refused to cooperate.

The case started on June 28, 1999, when police went to the Simmons home in Teaneck after finding Tashera's purse near the spot where the rapper's business manager was shot in the Fort Lee Hilton. The business manager, who is also Earl Simmons' uncle, was wounded in the foot. The shooting remains unsolved.

At the house, Tate told detectives that Simmons had been smoking crack cocaine all week and had whipped out a pistol in front of her. Police found a loaded 9 mm pistol in a dresser, hollow-nosed bullets, a high-capacity magazine and six "used glass cocaine-smoking pipes" in a bedroom vanity. They also found 13 pit bulls. The couple's son, who was 6 at the time, and a 15-year-old cousin also were in the house, prompting the child endangerment charges.

Under the plea deal, Simmons forfeited all weapons and animals. "We thought this was an appropriate plea based on all the facts and circumstances," said Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Ike Gavzy.

Simmons also must give $15,000 to the Bergen County chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is to use the money for printed materials, Gavzy said. The Humane Society also may use his image on posters.

Simmons was nominated for a Grammy this year for best rap solo performance for "Who We Be," and his latest release, "The Great Depression," debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 in November. He co-starred with the late Aaliyah in the 2000 movie "Romeo Must Die" and appeared with Steven Seagal in last year's "Exit Wounds."


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