Cardi B pleads not guilty to assault charges in Flushing strip club brawl

Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B arrives for a hearing at Queens County Criminal Court, Tuesday. She was arraigned on new felony charges in connection with a fight last year at a Flushing strip club. Photo by Uli Seit/ The New York Times  via AP, Pool.


Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B arrives for a hearing at Queens County Criminal Court, Tuesday. She was arraigned on new felony charges in connection with a fight last year at a Flushing strip club. Photo by Uli Seit/The New York Times via AP, Pool.

By Victoria Merlino

“Cardi don’t need more press,” the Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B says in the chorus of her new hit single “Press.” 

But she’s going to get it, after her indictment in Queens Supreme Court Tuesday on 12 charges, including felony assault, related to her alleged role in a Flushing strip club brawl last year. 

The hip hop superstar, born Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, was previously charged with misdemeanor assault. 

“Not guilty, sir, honor,” Almánzar told Justice Joseph Zayas when asked how she would plead. 

The “I Like It” rapper was smartly dressed in a pink and blue pantsuit, pink nails and a blue shoulder-length bob that matched her outfit, continuing her trend of wearing catwalk-ready ensembles to court.

Two others allegedly involved in the altercation, Tawana Jackson-Morel and Jeffrey Bush, also pleaded not guilty. 

The fight started after Almánzar allegedly participated in an attack on two bartenders at the Angels Strip Club on College Point Boulevard in Flushing, near the Whitestone Expressway, according to the criminal complaint. Shortly after 3 a.m. on August 15, Bush and an unidentified woman ordered drinks at the bar, prosecutors say. When one of the sisters began serving the pair, the unidentified woman and three other women started to punch her. Bush allegedly recorded the attack. 

Almánzar and Jackson-Morel allegedly spoke about the attack on social media prior to it occurring, and planned the day, time and location, as well as allegedly spoke about payment for the attack. 

On August 29, Almánzar, Bush and Jackson-Morel arrived at the bar and allegedly threw drinks and glass bottles at the sister of the first woman attacked on August 15. Almánzar allegedly accused one of the sisters of sleeping with her husband, Migos rapper Offset.  

Zayas repeatedly reminded the three defendants not to be late to court dates, especially when the court was trying to accommodate their schedules. Jackson-Morel appeared late during the arraignment because she was coming from work in Harlem, her attorney said. Almánzar missed an arraignment last year, and showed up three hours late to a recent May court date. 

If convicted, the defendants face up to four years in prison. 

Almánzar’s attorney, Jeff Kern, told reporters outside the courthouse that he had “no doubt” the case will have a positive outcome.