SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – A principal dancer with the New York City Ballet pleaded guilty Thursday to cocaine-related charges, but says he has never used drugs and was protecting another person.
Nilas Martins, 40, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, a violation. He was originally charged with felony possession of cocaine after police found him in a parked car with another man in Saratoga Springs, the dance company's summer home, on July 3.
Martins, son of the ballet's master-in-chief Peter Martins, said nothing as City Court Judge Douglas Mills sentenced him to 40 hours of community service and ordered him to undergo drug and alcohol evaluation. He also was fined $295.
"I'm fairly confident that perhaps you now understand the nature of your relationship with drugs," Mills told Martins in court.
"For those of us who have watched you dance, and watched your father, we want to continue to watch you," the judge said.
Outside court, Martins' lawyer, E. Stewart Jones, said the dancer welcomed the drug evaluation.
"He does not use drugs. He has not used drugs. He will never, ever use drugs," said Jones, adding that Martins took the plea to protect the other person in the car.
"He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong person. He's essentially falling on his sword," Jones said.
Detective Sgt. Warren Wildy said neither Jones nor Martins has told city police the dancer was covering for someone else, but if they did so, the investigation would be reopened. He declined to identify the other person in the car.
A call to the Saratoga County district attorney's office wasn't immediately returned.
Martins was arrested after a city police officer walking by the dancer's parked BMW saw him trying to hide what turned out to be a plastic bag containing cocaine.
Martins was first charged with fifth-degree cocaine possession, a felony punishable by one to seven years in prison. But the state police crime laboratory found the confiscated drugs weighed less than the amount required to charge him with a felony, said Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor seventh-degree criminal possession two weeks ago.