Rapper DMX pleads not guilty to felony charges

July 24, 2008 7:35:14 PM PDT
DMX rapped for reporters outside a Phoenix courtroom Thursday after pleading not guilty to felony charges of theft and identity theft. Then he plugged an album.

Authorities allege the 37-year-old rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, gave the name "Troy Jones" and an incorrect Social Security number to a Scottsdale hospital in April to avoid paying $7,500 in medical expenses.

When reporters asked for comment following the hearing in Maricopa County Superior Court, Simmons rapped: "If and when you ever fall down, get back up. ... Stand for something or fall for everything. Wait for the right pitch, you'll miss every swing."

His lawyer, Charles Kozelka, then pulled him away as Simmons urged reporters to look for his next album. He has a hip-hop album, "Walk With Me Now," slated for release Oct. 14 and a gospel album, "You'll Fly With Me Later," in the works.

The rapper's record label, Bodog Music, is sticking by its artist.

"We wouldn't work with DMX period if we didn't believe he was just a victim of circumstance," said Peter Karroll, president of Bodog. "The sheriff in Phoenix is definitely targeting him. It's unbelievable."

The theft and identity theft charges come after months of trouble for Simmons. He was arrested at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport earlier this month on outstanding warrants after he failed to appear in court.

The week before, he was arrested in Miami on charges of attempting to purchase cocaine and marijuana.

Simmons also faces multiple charges of drug possession and cruelty to animals in Phoenix. He is due in court Aug. 12 relating to those charges.