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Crazy like a Foxy

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Foxy Brown had a judge seeing red yesterday after the raunchy rapper stuck out her tongue at the jurist, scuffled with court officers and ended up handcuffed to a bench - all in a dispute over chewing gum.

The dirty diva escaped being sent to jail for contempt of court only by making an apology to a furious Judge Melissa Jackson, who thought Brown had repeatedly dissed her - and topped it off by smacking on a piece of gum while standing before her.

Brown, a k a Inga Marchand, was in Manhattan Criminal Court hoping to work out a plea deal on misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a fight over money with two manicurists at Bloomie's Nails in Chelsea last year.

After a morning of failed negotiations on the deal, which would have given her community service, Brown sauntered into her final appearance before Judge Jackson. Details of the deal weren't disclosed.

She wore dark, oversized, bejeweled sunglasses that stuck out like a sore thumb against her conservative outfit of gray slacks and a dark jacket. Her lawyer motioned for her to remove the shades.

That's when the judge thought she saw Brown chewing gum and ordered her to get rid of it.

The rapper's lawyer protested she wasn't chewing gum - and Brown opened her mouth wide, sticking out her tongue like a petulant schoolgirl in front of a teacher.

"I don't like your client's attitude," Jackson snapped at lawyer Joseph Fleming. "She's making faces. She's sneering."

Jackson ordered Brown, 26, cuffed to a bench for 15 minutes, but the skinny star didn't go quietly - she flailed out at court officers attempting to cuff her left wrist, which already had a big, blingy bracelet around it.

"Don't grab on me!" Foxy shrieked to an officer, who responded, "Your hand belongs in the cuff."

After she was subdued and shackled, Brown sat sulking on the bench while Fleming tried to convince the judge his client hadn't heard her commands. The rapper has said she is almost completely deaf due to an ear condition - although she chatted amiably with well-wishers in the courtroom entrance before her appearance.

"She heard me," Jackson countered. "She was making faces at the court. She understood me."

Brown refused to apologize, so Jackson threatened her with 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for contempt of court - saying her manner was disrespectful and she seemed to expect to be treated differently by sitting in the gallery with friends instead of in front of the bench.

The judge gave Brown another chance to apologize before locking her up, and after a brief powwow with her lawyer, the saucy singer gave in. With her cuffed hands clutching the offending sunglasses behind her back, Brown uttered her one-sentence mea culpa: "I apologize to the court for my actions."

Jackson continued to stare at Brown. "You have gum in your mouth," the judge said.

"She does not have gum in her mouth," Fleming protested.

"Why is she chewing?" asked Jackson.

"She just does that," an exasperated Fleming replied.

"Ms. Brown?" said the judge.

"Your honor, she cannot hear," said Fleming.

The judge eyed the rapper in the courtroom for a few long seconds - then set a trial date of Jan. 23 and ordered Brown to stay away from the nail-salon workers involved in last year's manicure fracas.

Foxy's camp lashed out at the judge for imposing a harsher form of community service than had been agreed upon. Former NAACP chief Ben Chavis, a hip-hop activist, complained there was "no justification" for the handcuffing, adding: "It appeared the judge's prejudice toward Foxy Brown was also because of Foxy's race."

The singer is black, the judge white. The judge and prosecutor didn't immediately respond to messages.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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