It's a celebration! This Thursday, May 7th, at the Collingwood Community Center from 7-9PM, 30 Collings Ave, Collingswood, NJ. $10/$5 students. Free sodas and buffet. Ed Wise and his New Orleans Big Band will be appearing to celebrate Charlie Rice's victory! See Philadelphia Daily News Article below.
Jazz drummer beats gas rap
By JASON NARK
Philadelphia Daily News
Life is back in tune for Charlie Rice, the venerable jazz drummer who was accused last year at age 88 of stealing gasoline from the Camden school district.
The New Jersey Attorney General's Office yesterday dismissed official-misconduct charges against Rice, after he spent the last 11 months fighting them in court.
Rice, now 89, said that despite the threat of jail time, he had not turned downbeat since he was charged in June.
I feel wonderful," Rice told the Daily News from his Camden home yesterday. I knew it was going to happen, one way or another. I wasn't really too depressed about it, it was just taking up a lot of my time."
Rice, a handyman/aide for Camden schools for the last two decades, was accused of fueling his personal car six times over three months in 2007 at municipal fueling stations, where he worked as a gas attendant until he was suspended.
Rice says that he had put about 20 gallons of gasoline into his car to cover his commute and also to keep his car running between filling tanks if needed to keep cool or warm up.
Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office, said the charges were dismissed in the interest of justice . . . based on the totality of the circumstances, not a single factor."
Originally from West Philly, Rice sat behind the drums for some of the biggest names in jazz, including John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. He continues to play every once in awhile.
Suzanne Cloud, co-founder of Jazz Bridge, a nonprofit group that raised more than $17,000 in legal-defense funds for Rice, said that a celebration will take place Thursday night in Collingswood - and she might ask him to play.
This man spent decades building a reputation, and he wanted to stand up and fight," she said. The community really came out for him."
In total, 11 other government employees and another person were charged with stealing government gas to fuel personal vehicles. At least six of those defendants entered guilty pleas, but Rice steadfastly refused.
His attorney, Mike Pinsky, could not be reached for comment yesterday.