Both the rapper and former drug kingpin known as Rick Ross have issued statements in the wake of “Freeway” Rick Ross’s resurrected lawsuit alleging his hip-hop namesake (original name William Leonard Roberts II) is profiting off his identity.
Ross, who is infamous for being at the center of crack cocaine’s introduction to and rise within America’s inner cities in the late 1980s, was originally sentenced to life in prison after attempting to buy over 100 kilograms of cocaine from a federal agent. His sentence was reduced twice for good behavior, and he was released in September 2009.
Since learning of information gained in 2008 by website The Smoking Gun indicating Roberts served as a correctional officer in Florida for 18 months, Ross has fought the rapper’s alleged use of his name, suing him in federal court June 2010 for $10 million. After losing the first case due to a failure to find any trademark possessed by Ross over his name, he filed again in California State Court and sent the federal case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Ross lost a further attempt in the Los Angeles Superior Court before a state judge reversed the ruling, stating that the statute of limitations had not run out on the case and rejecting a motion to dismiss from Warner Bros. Records last Thursday.
Since then, the two sides are restating their claims in the public arena while preparing to go to court. Roberts told Funk Master Flex on New York’s Hot 97 that he was surprised, “because dudes that really supposed to come from the street, we could have met and spoke face to face and maybe did this another way, but homie wanted to go through the courts and say that I was rapping in all of my songs about his life and in my songs I’m talking about his life and it’s just not true.”
Ross, for his part, alleged in a Sunday editorial on Loop 21 that he asked to sit down, and it was Roberts who failed to show up and who changed his phone number. Referring to the considerable news coverage surrounding his trial and his part in the crack epidemic, Ross believes “the guy studied me, watched TV, read all the press, talked to people that were around me then tricked people when they searched the internet and thought he was me.”
Ross has been given 10 days to amend his suit with new allegations, which he told The Hollywood Reporter would be “no problem.”
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