Pop singer and songwriter Bruno Mars took the first step Friday toward resolving his felony cocaine possession case from his September arrest at the Hard Rock Hotel.
At a brief appearance in Las Vegas Justice Court, Mars, whose real name is Peter Hernandez, waived a preliminary hearing for one felony count of drug possession.
The case was moved to District Court, and an arraignment hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14.
Mars is expected to plead guilty to the charge, as part of a deal made with prosecutors.
Mars will be placed on a year of informal probation. He must pay a $2,000 fine, perform 200 hours of community service, attend drug counseling and stay out of trouble.
If the 25-year-old successfully completes the terms, he will be allowed to withdraw his plea, and the case will be dismissed, a common occurrence in minor first-time drug possession cases.
If Mars fails, he will be adjudicated guilty and could face prison time.
A solemn Mars — wearing a button- down shirt and tie and a black jacket and jeans — appeared Friday morning escorted by an entourage of attorneys and court marshals.
When asked by Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Joe Sciscento if he understood the legal happenings, he answered several times clearly and politely, “Yes, your honor.”
Afterwards, Mars’ lead defense attorney, Los Angeles celebrity lawyer Blair Berk, said, “We are extremely pleased that the charge against Bruno is going to be dismissed.”
Mars was arrested at 2:40 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Hard Rock Hotel after security discovered he had 2.6 grams of cocaine.
According to a Las Vegas police arrest report, Mars was seen with a baggie of white powder in a restroom stall by an attendant who told hotel security.
When confronted by hotel security, Mars handed over the baggie.
Mars later asked a police officer, “ ’Can I speak to you honestly, sir?’ Hernandez (Mars) admitted he did a foolish thing and has never used drugs before,” according to the arrest report.
Mars’ arrest came on the heels of a two-year undercover investigation of the Hard Rock Hotel by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The investigation targeted hotel hosts and security personnel who were selling drugs and providing patrons private restrooms for drug use and sex.
Last month, the Nevada Gaming Commission gave final approval to a $650,000 settlement between the Hard Rock Hotel and state regulators.
The Gaming Control Board recognized the hotel’s change in tolerance toward such behavior in the settlement order. “Evidence of (The Hard Rock Hotel’s) zero tolerance of drug possession or sale on its premises is the recent detention by (the hotel’s) security and subsequent arrest by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department of a popular entertainer for possession of illegal drugs.”
Mars was not named in the order, but there has not been another high-profile arrest at the hotel in recent months.
Mars’ musical career has soared in popularity for singing and co-writing pop hits “Nothin’ On You” by B.o.B and “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy.
He recently scored a Billboard No. 1 hit with his song “Just the way you are.”
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.