Smooth R&B star Gerald Levert — ex lead singer of the group Levert, son of O’Jays leader Eddie Levert, and former Tri-C spokesman — apologized in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday and admitted to charges of assault and attempted obstruction of official business when he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts stemming from a confrontation with police during a Cleveland traffic stop five months ago.
Levert, 39, of suburban Newbury Township, was fined $2,000, to be paid to a police charity, and put on probation for one year. After leaving a Flats nightclub in a three car caravan, Levert and another man, 28-year-old James Austin Jr. of Canton, stopped their cars to intervene when officers stopped a third friend Levert described as his “nephew’s mother” for speeding. When police ordered them back to their cars, Levert swore and yanked his elbow out of an officer’s grasp and Austin punched another officer. Such things are frowned upon.
Austin pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of assaulting a police officer and a misdemeanor obstruction count and faces up to 18 months in prison when sentenced on Sept. 1. Levert, who is considered something of a pillar of the community and who had no previous record, still has a drunk-driving charge hanging over his head from the February incident.
“If there were any way I could relive that moment, knowing then what I know now, I would have handled it differently … I would have stayed in the car and left it alone,” Levert said in court, and apologized “to the Cleveland Police Department, my family, my friends and my fans” for what he called “a series of unfortunate events.”
Lemony Snicket notwithstanding.