By Jeff Mays and Shayna Jacobs
MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — An accused escape artist who authorities say fled a courthouse after his arraignment on a sexual assault charge is the rapper "True Master" who is a producer for the Wu-Tang Clan, DNAinfo has learned.
Police tracked down 41-year-old True Master, aka Derrick Harris, to his apartment on West 120th Street and re-arrested him after he slipped away from police at approximately 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday after his arraignment at 100 Centre St. criminal courthouse on charges of sexually assaulting and beating a woman inside his Harlem apartment.
Neighbors said at least 20 police officers and two helicopters descended on the neighborhood to re-arrest Harris.
"There were helicopters zooming and police everywhere," said one neighbor who asked not to be named.
Harris had been ordered held on $250,000 bond, $150,000 cash bail. But prosecutors said he managed to escape during a custody hand-off from the NYPD to the Department of Correction in the bowels of the courthouse. Officials did not say how he was able to do so.
Harris worked with some of the top names in hip-hop, including the late legendary Wu-Tang rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, and others.
He performed on rapper Guru's "Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2," album with the solo track, "Who's the Truest."
Harris reportedly sued Wu-Tang Productions in 2006 for breach of contract after they allegedly refused to pay him royalties for his work. He also sued Sony BMG Music and others in 2005 for breach of contract and copyright infringement, according to the New York Sun.
A Dept. of Correction spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that Harris had not yet been transferred into the agency's custody when he got away.
Harris was caught about six hours later, just after 7 a.m., at his apartment.
Harris allegedly spat on one of the arresting officers before he was handcuffed and brought back to 100 Centre St., according to court documents.
Once returned to court he was re-arraigned on with charges of felony escape and harassment and ordered held without bail. He is being held at the Manhattan Detention Center.
A courthouse source said Wednesday that Harris was not seen on the building's surveillance tape leaving the main doors so he was believed to have escaped from a secure area.
Harris' initial arrest was on charges he carried out a violent sexual attack on a 43-year-old woman at his apartment. The woman, described as an acquaintance, said she was severely beaten and dragged back inside when she tried to escape through his bathroom window.
Friends told DNAinfo that Harris has lived in the 120th Street building for a while but has always kept a low-key despite his affiliation with world-famous rappers.
"He's just a nice, regular guy," one neighbor remarked.
Another neighbor, Harvey Scales, 69, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, said his son used to hang out with Harris.
"I never saw anything negative about him," said Scales.
Harris did have a reputation as a ladies man, said Scales.
"He liked a lot of ladies," said Scales. "I was a little jealous because he had that charisma where women were attracted to him like flies to honey."