Justin Bieber has been charged with assaulting a limousine driver in Toronto last month.
However, Steve Salem, the manager at VIP Limousine Toronto says Bieber was “involved” but it was the Canadian’s singer’s entourage who carried out the alleged crime.
“What I heard… [the assault] wasn’t directly from Justin. He was involved, but it was others,” Salem told the Toronto Sun, adding that it was individuals in the performer’s entourage who allegedly assaulted the driver.
“Entourage for sure. I can confirm that,” Salem told the Sun,” adding the driver was “not happy with what happened.”
The manager told the outlet he knows the driver but refused to identify him, explaining that VIP Limousines is part of a group of six limo services controlled by a larger firm. The driver works part-time for one of those services, not VIP, Salem said.
In a news release, the Toronto Police Service confirmed the 19-year-old turned himself in at 52 Division police station on Wednesday evening.
It’s alleged the limo driver picked up six people outside a nightclub in Toronto on December 30, and was allegedly hit on the back of the head several times when an altercation occurred between one of the passengers and the driver during the journey.
At that point, the driver stopped the vehicle and called the police. When it was first reported, police said it was unclear who allegedly hit the chauffeur.
Bieber surrendered on Wednesday amid freezing temperatures, screaming fans, press, and a linked arm police escort into the station.
He was charged with one count of assault and left through a back exit after around one and half to two hours.
The case will go to court in Toronto on March 10. The singer is scheduled to appear.
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) January 30, 2014
Bieber’s lawyer in California, Howard Weitzman, released a statement to E! News. It read:
“The Toronto Police Service requested that Justin Bieber appear in Toronto today to face an allegation of assault relating to an incident on December 29, 2013.
“We anticipate that this matter will be treated as a summary offense, the equivalent of a misdemeanor in the United States. Our position is that Mr. Bieber is innocent.”
“As the matter is now before the Court, it would be inappropriate to address the specifics of either the allegation or of our defense at this time,” the release concluded,
Earlier on Wednesday a lawyer for Bieber filed a written not guilty plea to charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest without violence, and driving with an expired licence in connection with his DUI arrest in Miami Beach on January 23.
Court records show the plea was filed in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Bieber already has an arraignment hearing scheduled for February 14, but Florida law does not require him to appear.
Defence lawyer Mark Shapiro added no decision had been made on whether the star would attend that hearing.
Bieber and his pal, R&B singer Khalil Sharieff, were arrested for suspected DUI after police stopped them on a residential street during what was described as an illegal street drag race between a yellow Lamborghini (Bieber) and a red Ferrari (Sharieff).
Neither driver was charged with drag racing.
The singer was released from a Miami-Dade county jail on a $2,500 bond that Thursday, flying to Panama, Central America late Friday.
Justin was joined there by his manager Scooter Braun, mentor Usher, his mother Pattie Mallette, close friends, and Chantel Jeffries – a model, 21 – who was a passenger in the Lamborghini at the time of the arrest.
The teen singer is also under investigation for vandalism in Los Angeles County over an egg-throwing incident at his neighbor’s home in Calabasas, California. Detectives raided Bieber’s home on January 14 but found no evidence connecting him to the egging on home security surveillance video seized during the search.
Prosecutors have asked the Sheriff’s department to investigate further before they make a decision on whether to pursue charges.
These legal challenges, if which there are others pending, come as a petition asking the Obama administration to deport the pop star passed the 100,000-signature mark needed for a White House response.
So far the We The People petition – which was launched by “J.A. from Detroit” the same day as Bieber’s DUI arrest – has collected 176, 502 signatures.
Experts are split on the whether Bieber would be deported, as federal law states a visa could be revoked or denied for a conviction of a violent crime with a one year – or longer – prison sentence. However, some think drugs could introduce the element of “moral turpitude” which can sway decisions.
Miami police say Bieber was “belligerent” during his suspected DUI arrest and allege the singer admitted to smoking marijuana, drinking a beer, and taking a prescription medication.
His blood alcohol level in two breath tests estimated at 0.014 and 0.011, both under Florida’s 0.02 legal limit drivers under 21. Further test results will reveal whether or not he was high at the time.
If convicted, Bieber could face up to six months in jail, although it’s thought he will likely get a lighter sentence for his first offence.
Braun tweeted two earnest messages Wednesday evening asking the public to not jump to conclusions or criticize Bieber’s parents.
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) January 29, 2014
i ask people to be kind and hope for the best in people. not assume the worst. thanks
— Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) January 29, 2014