KINGSPORT, Tennessee – Rapper Birdman was released on bond early Wednesday, a day after he and several others were charged with possession of marijuana after the RV they were riding in was pulled over for making an improper lane change.
The 38-year-old Miami-based rapper, whose real name is Bryan Williams, was charged with possession of more than a half-ounce of marijuana.
His wife Brittany Williams, 18, of Houston and his brother, Ronald Williams, 43, of Aventura, Fla., were also charged along with 13 others, according to a news release from the Kingsport Police Department.
Bryan and Ronald Williams founded Cash Money Records in 1991, according to the record label's Web site. Hits featuring Birdman include "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" and "Army Gunz." Some of the label's top artists include Lil' Wayne, Teena Marie and Baby.
The label is distributed, marketed and promoted by Universal Records. A phone message left Wednesday at Universal Records was not immediately returned.
Police said they stopped the RV driven by Keith Boswell, 38, of Daytona Beach, Fla., after they saw it force a tractor-trailer into the emergency lane on Interstate 81.
Cpl. Tim Horne said he could smell marijuana from inside the rented RV and found about a pound of marijuana in a trash can in the RV's kitchenette.
Others arrested include road manager Shahid Muhammad, 40, of New Orleans, Cash Money Records promoter Casey Collins, 42, of New Orleans, and music promoter Ovide Antoine, 32, of Miami.
One of the suspects, 24-year-old Brandon Thursten of Miami, had a 9mm handgun tucked in his waistband, Horne said. Police said they also found a second gun.
No weapons charges have been filed, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is assisting in the investigation.
Bryan Williams was released on $1,500 bond around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Sullivan County jail's booking department. The other 15 also were free on bond Wednesday.
Police told The Kingsport Times-News that several people in the RV were carrying about $1,000 cash and some had as much as $5,000 on hand. Officers said the money -- approximately $12,000 to $15,000 -- won't be seized unless police detect the smell of marijuana on it.
Boswell told police the group was traveling from New Orleans to New York for a BET shoot.