WHITEHALL, N.Y. – Trey Anastasio made a surprise appearance in an upstate New York court this week and pleaded not guilty to a drug possession charge that a prosecutor said could be bumped up to a felony.
The 42-year-old former Phish frontman didn't speak to reporters after his brief arraignment on misdemeanor charges of drug possession and driving under the influence of drugs.
Anastasio was pulled over by Whitehall police who spotted his car weaving across a rural road early on the morning of Dec. 15. Police said they found quantities of prescription painkillers and an anti-anxiety drug that hadn't been prescribed for him.
Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said the quantity of pills could lead to a felony drug possession charge and, depending on discussions with Anastasio's lawyers, the case may go to a grand jury.
Anastasio wasn't scheduled for arraignment until Jan. 10, but showed up in court unannounced Wednesday.
"We didn't know he was going to be here until we saw that black limo out front," Whitehall Village Justice William Redmond told The Post-Star of Glens Falls.
Anastasio is free on his own recognizance and due back in court on Feb. 14.
After his arrest, Anastasio issued a written statement that he felt "terrible about what happened last night, and I am deeply sorry for any embarrassment I have caused my friends, family and fans."
The guitarist lives in Richmond, Vt., and has been performing solo since Phish broke up in 2004.
Whitehall is 65 miles northeast of Albany on the Vermont line.