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Friday, 16 February, 2001, 09:06 GMT
Puffy 'offered driver a bribe'

Mr Combs pleads innocent over the charges
Rap star Sean "Puffy" Combs tried to bribe his driver with a ring given to him by then girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, a witness has told a court in New York.

Wardell Fenderson, a part-time driver for the singer, said he was offered $50,000 (34,460) and a ring worth $300,000 (207,000) as insurance to tell police that a gun found in the singer's car was his.

He also told the court that he saw Mr Combs carrying a black hangun as he entered Club New York in Time Square, with Lopez and his entourage.

Three people were injured in a shooting incident in the club.

The hip-hop mogul is charged with possession of a weapon in connection with the shooting, and is also charged with trying to bribe his driver to take the blame.

He faces up to 15 years imprisonment if found guilty.

'Black handgun'

Mr Combs, who pleads innocent, was arrested after he fled the club with Jennifer Lopez, who was not charged.

Mr Fenderson is the fourth witness to tell the court that the singer was holding a gun.

"I saw Mr Combs holding a black handgun, an automatic,' 'Mr Wardell Fenderson, told the court.

''It was in his right hand. The gun was pointing at me and I thought 'What in God's name is he doing holding a gun? If this thing goes off, it's going to hit me'."

Mr Fenderson said the singer offered him a bribe after they had been taken to a police station in New York.

'Double shock'

"I went from shock to double shock. I was speechless,'' Fenderson said.

He told the court that at one point Mr Combs "removed his pinky ring and said it was worth $300,000,'' and urged him to take the diamond ring - a birthday gift to Mr Combs from Ms Lopez - "if you don't think I'm good for it".

He said Anthony Jones, Mr Combs' co-defendant, also tried to persuade him to accept the money.

A third man, Jamal Barrow faces charges of attempted murder and gun possession.

The driver initially told police that the gun found in the car belonged to him but changed his story after initial questioning.

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See also:

08 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Third witness 'saw Puff Daddy armed'
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Puffy 'not taught to open car safe'
14 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Puffy and Lopez split
15 Feb 01 | Entertainment
The making of America's hippest couple
09 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Puffy driver 'changed gun story'
30 Jan 01 | Americas
Puff Daddy in the dock
05 Jan 00 | Entertainment
Puff Daddy proclaims his innocence
14 Jan 00 | Entertainment
'Puffy' hires OJ's lawyer
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