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Village People singer pleads no contest to drug charges, faces prison term

Bay City News Service

July 19, 2006

With well-known attorney Mark Geragos in tow, Victor Edward Willis, a member of the 1970s disco group The Village People, pleaded no contest today to drug charges stemming from his most recent arrest in March.

Better known as "the cop" in The Village People, Willis, 55, who helped make famous the songs "YMCA" and "In the Navy," pleaded no contest today in exchange for either a two year prison term or a suspended three-year, eight-month prison term on the condition that he complete a residential drug treatment program and six months in jail, for which he has already accrued time.

"You need to deal with your addiction in a way that you haven't done before," San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum said to Willis today.

Forcum will sentence Willis to one of the two options in September upon review of a probation report.

Willis' spokeswoman Alice Wolf said that if Forcum chooses to send Willis to a rehabilitation program in lieu of prison, the singer would likely enter a program in Southern California.

Willis' most recent arrest occurred on March 26 during a routine traffic stop near the 700 block of Airport Boulevard in South San Francisco.

Willis and a passenger in the car were found with cocaine and drug paraphernalia, according to South San Francisco police.

Prior to his March 26 arrest, Willis had been missing since Oct. 20 after he failed to appear at his sentencing on charges stemming from a July 11, 2005 arrest in Daly City. Willis was pulled over around 11 p.m. that night for an unspecified traffic violation in the area of Bayshore Boulevard and Geneva Avenue, according to police reports.

Police found Willis in possession of 3.23 grams of cocaine and a loaded .45-caliber, semi-automatic handgun, according to the San Mateo County district attorney's office.

Since his arrest in March, Willis has been undergoing in-custody substance abuse treatment through the county's Choices program. Geragos and Paula Canny, another attorney working on Willis' case, said their client is doing well in Choices and hopes to continue to recover from his drug addiction in a residential rehabilitation program.

"He wants to go into a treatment program and is anxious to do so," Geragos said.

Since his arrest in March, Willis has spent time reflecting on the future of his singing career, recently launching a new Web site.

"I've not lost my voice as was rumored. In fact, my voice still sounds about the same, if not better," Willis said in a letter posted on the Web site. "So I look forward to returning to the stage again for a summer tour starting in June 2007."

Willis said he has commissioned a biographer to write a book about his life.

Willis, who remains in custody on no-bail status, will appear in court on Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. for his sentencing.

Had he gone to trial, Willis would have faced up to seven years in prison for his arrest in March, his July 2005 arrest and a probation violation stemming from a 2003 incident in which he was found in possession of 4 grams of cocaine.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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