REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Victor Willis, the original policeman in the 1970s disco band the Village People, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to drug possession and giving false identification to a police officer.
His arrest Sunday ended a five-month search for the former hitmaker.
Willis, 54, was pulled over by a South San Francisco police officer for a routine traffic stop but was arrested after cocaine and drug paraphernalia was found in his car, Lt. Jeff Azzopardi said.
The officer did not immediately recognize Willis, who was the subject of a bench warrant after failing to appear at his sentencing hearing on drug and weapons charges in October, police said.
Both Willis and his companion, Staci Brandt, who also was wanted for a parole violation, initially gave false names to the officer, Azzopardi said. Willis was later identified through fingerprints.
Brandt also pleaded not guilty to the same charges Tuesday.
Both are scheduled to return to court on April 10.
Last July, Willis was arrested in Daly City for possessing cocaine. He agreed to a plea bargain that would have resulted in a prison term of no more than 16 months, but he never showed up for sentencing. His bail jumping now gives a judge the right to impose the maximum four-year, four-month sentence.
A new sentencing date for that case has not been set, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
Willis, who co-wrote such hits as "YMCA" and "In the Navy," left the Village People in 1980. His case was first featured on the television crime show "America's Most Wanted" in December.