Rapper DMX (real name: Earl Simmons) will produce public service announcements telling children to stay away from guns and be kind to animals under terms of a plea bargain with Bergen County, N.J., au

Rapper DMX (real name: Earl Simmons) will produce public service announcements telling children to stay away from guns and be kind to animals under terms of a plea bargain with Bergen County, N.J., authorities. DMX avoided prison time yesterday (Jan. 9) by pleading guilty to 13 counts of animal cruelty, two counts of maintaining a nuisance, and one count each of disorderly conduct and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The deal also drops weapons and child endangerment charges from 1999 against his wife, Tashera Simmons. "I'm just glad it's over," the 31-year-old rapper, who now lives in Westchester County, N.Y., told The Record of Hackensack after his court appearance.

The number and nature of the announcements have not been determined. State Superior Court Judge Donald R. Venezia asked prosecutors to work out the details before a March 15 sentencing date. Simmons also faces a $1,000 fine for each count of animal cruelty and a term of probation.

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

Police went to the Simmons home in Teaneck, N.J., in June 1999 after finding Tashera's purse near the spot where the rapper's business manager had been shot at 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 pulled out a pistol in front of her. A search revealed 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. Authorities also found 13 pit bulls in the house.

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.

Simmons' latest release, "The Great Depression," debuted at the top of The Billboard 200 last 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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