Boy George, the 1980s pop icon, was last night facing a possible 15-year jail term after he was charged with possessing cocaine in his New York apartment.
Friends said the former frontman of Culture Club, who was convicted of heroin possession in 1986, was protesting his innocence as he prepared to return to the UK last night. But he will have to return to New York in December to answer the charges.
Police arrested Boy George, whose real name is George O'Dowd, at his home in the Little Italy neighbourhood of the city, after they responded to a call reporting a burglary in the early hours of Friday morning. Police allegedly found more than five grams of cocaine next to a computer.
George was released without bail yesterday, despite being charged with possession of a controlled substance and falsely reporting a burglary. The drug charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department said Boy George had earlier staggered around his apartment, apparently in "a drugged stupor". Last night, however, Boy George's former agent Tony Denton denied the drug belonged to the star.