Popular Chinese comedian faces weapon, drug charges

This Jan. 19, 2017 photo provided by the Nassau County Police Dept. shows a booking photo of Chinese comedian Zhou Libo taken in Mineola, N.Y., after his arrest on weapon and drug possession charges. Zhou, 49, a former judge on the "China's Got Talent" television program, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from his arrest in the village of Lattingtown, N.Y., where police officers stopped the black Mercedes he was driving shortly after midnight because they said he had been driving erratically. (Nassau County Police Dept. via AP)

MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — A popular Chinese comedian and former judge on the “China’s Got Talent” television program is facing weapon and drug charges on Long Island.

Zhou Libo appeared playful and jovial, joking with more than a dozen reporters from Chinese media outlets before and after a brief appearance in a Nassau County courtroom on Friday. At one point before he went into court, Zhou smiled broadly as he joined other reporters in taking cellphone video of his attorney’s briefing to reporters.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a Jan. 19 arrest in the exclusive village of Lattingtown, east of New York City on what is known as Long Island’s “gold coast.”

Police said officers stopped a black Mercedes Benz that Zhou was driving shortly after midnight because “it was being driven erratically and the operator was using a cellphone.” They said the 49-year-old Zhou had a passenger with him.

Officers said they noticed a shoulder holster in the back seat and found a loaded pistol and two plastic bags containing crack cocaine inside a backpack. He and the passenger were arrested.

Attorney Hugh Mo declined to comment on the allegations after the case was adjourned to June 9.

“He’s taking the charges seriously,” the attorney said. “He does have confidence in the judicial system; he does have confidence in his lawyer; he does have confidence in the fact that hopefully at the end of the day we’re going to come out and hopefully resolve this to his satisfaction.”

Authorities have not disclosed why the popular Chinese comedian was in the ritzy community near Long Island Sound on the night of his arrest. He is believed to have a residence in Alpine, New Jersey.

Last July, the Shanghai native performed his standup routine at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The Carnegie Hall website noted he is a pioneer of political parody in mainland China. It said in 2012, he received the Starlight Award, the highest honor in China’s television arts, for the “Chinese Dream Show.”

He served as a judge on the popular “China’s Got Talent” program in 2010 and 2011.

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