A prosecutor said Thursday that New Kids on the Block singer Donnie Wahlberg got no special treatment in a plan for him to make public-service announcements instead of facing an arson charge.
The Associated Press reported erroneously Wednesday that Wahlberg had pleaded guilty.Wahlberg, the group's lead singer, accepted an agreement to record the spots on such topics as fire safety and drug prevention during a rare and hastily announced night court session Wednesday.
"I kind of quarterbacked the thing, and I know no special steps were taken," Jefferson County Attorney Mike Conliffe said Thursday. "Hopefully, we can take a very negative thing and turn it into something positive."
The 21-year-old singer had been charged with first-degree arson in connection with a March 27 hallway fire in Louisville's landmark Seelbach Hotel, where he was staying. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor criminal mischief under Wednesday's agreement.
Authorities alleged the singer spilled vodka on the floor and set it ablaze. But Wahlberg and one of his attorneys denied the allegations following the court appearance.
"In this instance, we looked at this case as we would any other case," Conliffe said as he explained the agreement, which will place Wahlberg under the county's pre-trial diversion program.
Wahlberg did not enter a plea during the hearing, and Conliffe said the case remains "on hold" until the singer completes the announcements. The charge will be dismissed after the announcements have been delivered, Conliffe said.
Wahlberg told the court he "accepted responsibility" and wanted "to apologize to the people of Louisville."
District Court Judge Jim Green, who presided at the hearing, said Thursday that the proceeding in the packed courtroom was "kind of confusing."
But Conliffe attributed the error to the "glitz" surrounding the case.
He said the proceedings should have been clear to anyone present who listened carefully.