‘Blue Bloods’ actor, hip-hop artist Eric B. freed from N.J. jail - NJ.com
|NJ.com 13 Nov 2019 at 02:47|
Hip-hop artist and actor Eric Barrier was released on bail from a New Jersey county jail Tuesday afternoon, two weeks after he was arrested for failing to appear in court 17 years ago for sentencing for an assault conviction.
Barrier , 56, who was part of the iconic rap duo Eric B. & Rakim , currently appears on the
“I am convinced you are not a flight risk or danger to the community,” Superior Court Judge James Guida said at Barrier’s hearing Tuesday in Superior Court in Hackensack. The judge also voiced concern that it took 17 years for someone to discover the warrant.
His next appearance is scheduled for later this month.
Barrier had been held at the Bergen County Jail since Oct. 28 on a bench warrant that was issued March 8, 2002 for failure to appear for a court sentencing. Court records show he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and resisting arrest/eluding on Jan. 28, 2002 for an incident that occurred in Ridgefield Park about a year earlier.
Barrier’s attorney then, Paul Bergrin of Nutley, told him “there was no need to appear on the sentencing date,” his new attorney, Patrick Toscano of Caldwell, said in a recent letter to the court since Barrier’s jailing.
“Mr. Bergrin told Mr. Barrier that his case was ‘dismissed’ because he was accepted into PTI (pre-trial intervention),” Toscano wrote in a letter to the court last week.
“When Mr. Barrier asked Mr. Bergrin if he was sure of that, Mr. Bergrin advised him that he definitely did not need to appear, and that Mr. Bergrin would be in court on that date to handle everything for him,” the letter states.
Years later, Bergrin was convicted of murder, cocaine trafficking, racketeering and other crimes, and is currently serving six life sentences at a federal prison.
Barrier has said he never received notice from the court about his failure to appear.
Toscano advocated strongly for Barrier’s release Wednesday, telling Guida he was 100 percent sure his client would cooperate with authorities in any capacity moving forward — an assertion he said he’d never made with another client, he said.
Barrier had been touring the U.S. before he was taken into custody, Toscano said, and has 30 to 40 employees on his payroll. ( next date is Nov. 22 in Wilmington, Delaware.)
Bergen County Assistant Prosecutor Ron McCormick argued Barrier’s life commitments don’t outweigh the penalties that come with failing to appear in court.
“The only difference is he didn’t appear for over 17 years,” the prosecutor said.
Bergen County Judge James Guida questions defense counsel Patrick Toscano during the hearing, on Tuesday Nov. 12, 2019.
“My client is not Al Capone,” Toscano said in court Tuesday afternoon. “He will be present in court for whatever reason from this day forward.”
Barrier’s next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 22.
Before court, and following a recent meeting with his client, Toscano said Barrier "was literally at wits end and overcome with anxiety” because his role with "Blue Bloods” may have been compromised.
On the cop show, he plays Detective Mike Gee, a friend of Donnie Wahlberg’s character Danny Reagan. In the role, he’s an ex-cop who comes out of retirement to help Reagan.
Media representatives for “Blue Bloods” and CBS Television did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Eric B. & Rakim were part of hip-hop’s golden age in the late 1980s and recognized as the premier DJ/MC team, according to AllMusic.com , which called Eric B. “a hugely influential DJ and beatmaker whose taste for hard-hitting James Brown samples touched off a stampede through the Godfather of Soul’s back catalog that continues up to the present day.”