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Singer Boy George was threatened with jail by a New York judge on Monday for failing to complete a community service requirement because he wanted to do something less humiliating than raking leaves. Criminal court judge Anthony Ferrara gave George until August 28 to complete the five days of community service, which was imposed in March when he admitted to falsely reporting a burglary, escaping more serious charges of drug possession.
Defense lawyer Louis Freeman had argued in court earlier this month that the singer, whose real name is George O'Dowd, was hoping to avoid the humiliation of dragging a rake around a city park and wanted to work with an AIDS charity. Freeman said if the singer was forced to sweep streets or a park, "it would turn into a media circus."
Ferrara appeared angry and insisted that George, who did not speak during the court appearance, would be treated the same as any other offender. "This is a simple matter," Ferrara told the 45-year-old singer. "Five days of community service. It's up to you as to whether it will be an exercise in humiliation or an exercise in humility. Your choice. If you do community service, you go out that door," he said pointing to the exit. "But I'm going to make you a promise. If you don't do this community service, you go through the back door," he said, threatening the singer with jail.
The charges against Boy George, who made his name as the cross-dressing front man for the 1980s chart-topping British pop band Culture Club, resulted from an October 7 incident when police responded to his call reporting a burglary and found 13 bags of cocaine in his apartment. If convicted on the drug charges, the singer could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison. Instead, he was ordered to attend a drug rehabilitation program and was fined $1,000, which he has paid.
George rose from supermarket shelf stocker to international pop star in 1982 with the song "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" which topped the charts in 18 countries. Culture Club went on to sell almost 20 million albums. In 1995, George recounted his drug-induced fall from grace and how he had finally kicked his heroin habit in the autobiography Take It Like a Man. Later, he made a new career as a disc jockey and record producer. (Jeanne King, Reuters)