A surprise witness in the case against rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs is in the custody of Maryland authorities and could be brought to New York to testify, a prosecutor said today (Feb. 21). The witnes

A surprise witness in the case against rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs is in the custody of Maryland authorities and could be brought to New York to testify, a prosecutor said today (Feb. 21). The witness, Matthew "Scar" Allen, 29, is the man with whom Combs allegedly had the dispute that sparked gunfire in Club New York in the early morning hours of Dec. 27, 1999, as Combs and his entourage tried to leave the Times Square club.

Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos said Allen could be brought to New York as early as tomorrow if he waives a hearing on his extradition. If he fights extradition, it could be a week before he's put on the stand, Bogdanos told state Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon.

Bogdanos said Allen agreed last month to testify but fled before he could be called to the stand. New York City Police Detective Arthur Caddigan said it took about six weeks to track down Allen, who was found early today in Prince George's County.

Bogdanos was expected to finish presenting evidence against Combs on Wednesday, but asked for permission to call Allen to testify after the defense begins putting on its case.

Combs' lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, objected to having his case interrupted by another witness for the prosecution and asked Solomon to allow Allen to testify only as a witness rebutting evidence in the defense case. Solomon did not immediately rule on the matter.

Allen is considered a valuable prosecution witness because he was standing close to Combs in the club. Allen is on probation and has charges pending against him in two other criminal matters, Bogdanos said. He offered no further details on those cases.

The judge also was expected to rule today on whether the defendants can be questioned about ''bad acts,'' the legal term for questionable conduct in a defendant's past that did not result in legal charges. If the judge rules against, the defense would be more likely to have Combs and his co-defendants testify.

Combs, his bodyguard, Anthony "Wolf" Jones, and rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow are on trial in connection with the shooting that left at least three people wounded. Combs and Jones are charged with two counts of gun possession, while Barrow is charged with attempted murder. Combs also is charged with bribery for allegedly offering his driver $50,000 to take the gun rap for him.

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