Driver Testifies in Puffy's Trial

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Postby pinkGLAM » Thu Feb 15, 2001 1:38 am

NEW YORK (AP) - A driver testified Wednesday that he never taught Sean 'Puffy' Combs or a substitute driver a series of Dick Tracy-style moves required to open a secret compartment in Combs' sports utility vehicle.

Prosecutors have alleged that occupants of Combs' Lincoln Navigator tried desperately to open the compartment to hide two illegal guns as police chased them on Dec. 27, 1999.

Combs, 31, and his bodyguard, Anthony 'Wolf' Jones, 34, are charged with two counts of gun possession. Police say they found one gun in the vehicle and allege a second gun was flung out the SUV's window during the chase.

Combs' main chauffeur, Bill Williamson, 39, who had the compartment installed, testified he had taught only one other person, Combs' head of security, how to open it.

Williamson, a prosecution witness, said that he did not teach the elaborate access sequence - which involved the ignition, radio and temperature controls and a hydraulic latch - to Wardell Fenderson, the driver working that night, but 'he'd seen me open it.'

Last week, a police officer testifying in the rap mogul's gun possession trial said he believed the trap was designed to hold guns. But defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman contends it was for jewelry and cash.

The four people in the Navigator, including Combs and his then-girlfriend, actress-singer Jennifer Lopez, 30, were fleeing Club New York, a Times Square-area nightclub.

Later Wednesday, an eyewitness testified that he heard a thud and found a gun in front of his parked car after Combs' SUV sped past.

But George Pappas acknowledged he could not definitively link the weapon and Combs' vehicle.

Pappas, 35, said he was parked around the corner from the club when he saw speeding cars and flashing police lights.

'I heard something hit my car,' Pappas testified. 'I'm looking up, and there's a window open on the Navigator.'

Pappas, a driver for an escort service, said he saw a hand go back inside the SUV's window and then found the gun on the street. He said he gave it to his boss, who then turned it over to authorities.

'You didn't see that hand throw anything out, did you?' Brafman inquired.

'No, I did not,' the witness replied.

'You didn't see that gun come out of the Navigator, did you?' Brafman pressed.

'No, I did not,' Pappas said.

A Combs protege, rapper Jamal Barrow, allegedly shot three people at the club. Barrow was arrested outside the club, allegedly with a gun jammed into his waistband. He is charged with three counts of attempted murder.

Combs and Jones were charged with bribery for allegedly offering $50,000 to Fenderson to claim he owned the gun in the Navigator.

Lopez was not charged. On Wednesday, a Combs publicist confirmed rumors that he and Lopez had split up.

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