Rapper Vanilla Ice Accepts Plea Deal in Florida
DIY Network Star agrees to perform community service and pay fine to late homeowner's estate
Rapper-turned-reality star Vanilla Ice (real name: Robert Van Winkle) will serve no jail time after he was arrested in February for allegedly stealing furnishings and other items from an abandoned home in Florida.
The plea agreement, which was reached in West Palm Beach on Thursday, states that Van Winkle, 47, will perform 100 hours of community service for Habitat for Humanity and will pay the late homeowner s estate between $1,100 and $1,300.
If Van Winkle upholds the agreement, prosecutors will drop the grand-theft charges. Prosecutors have already dropper burglary charges against the rapper.
According to a police report obtained by PEOPLE in February, Van Winkle, who lives in Wellington, Florida, was accused of burglarizing an abandoned property located near a home he was restoring for his DIY Network show, The Vanilla Ice Project.
The “Ice Ice Baby” rapper allegedly took furniture, art work, a pool heater, two bikes and other items in December.
Van Winkle told police at the time that he was planning to buy the property but “did not have a contract or down payment.” He also said he “found several of the items next to the curb and thought they were trash.”
Van Winkle’s lawyer, Bradford Cohen, tells PEOPLE that it was all a misunderstanding.
“This was a house owned by an estate. There’s a dispute where the furniture was,” Cohen says. “Police say it was in the property – the garage, the backyard, that type of thing. We would have disputed that if we went to trial, because it was on the curb. Rob didn’t have any criminal intent at all; this was a misunderstanding and the prosecutor knew that.
“We came up with a happy medium. We avoided the necessity of going to trial and letting a jury decide. It saved the state from having to put together a case that they might lose, and saved us from having to put together a defense.”
Cohen continued, “I was really impressed with the prosecutors in this case. A lot of times, they take the opportunity for a high-profile case to get on TV. It was refreshing to see them handle this one professionally.”
Van Winkle told the the Palm Beach Post on Thursday that he had been planning on doing work for Habitat for Humanity before being sentenced to community service.
“I am going to do what I do anyway,” he said. “This is an easy thing. It’s like asking the Pope to pray.”
Cohen also tells PEOPLE that Van Winkle had been working with Habitat for Humanity for years and that his client does “40 to 60 hours” of charity work a month.
“This was the best possible solution to the entire misunderstanding, and now Rob can put this behind him,” Cohen says.
• Additional reporting by STEVE HELLING