By Mary Thurwachter

Grand theft charges will be dropped against Robert Matthew Van Winkle, aka rapper Vanilla Ice, as long as he fulfills a plea deal that will have him doing 100 hours of community service and meeting a few other conditions during the next year.
Van Winkle, a former rapper turned real estate renovator, lives in Wellington and was arrested Feb. 18, accused of taking a patio set, furniture, bicycles, a pool heater and other items from a vacant property next to a house he is renovating on the 100 block of North Atlantic Drive in Lantana.
Van Winkle, 47, admitted guilt for the plea, but always maintained the issue was “just a misunderstanding.”
According to the police report, Van Winkle said he found the items next to the curb and thought they were trash.
After an appearance at the Courthouse in West Palm Beach on March 23, Van Winkle told reporters he never had any criminal intent and is “moving forward.”
He agreed to pay $1,333 in restitution to the alleged victim, the estate of Morgan Wilbur III, who died in 2008. He was ordered to stay away from the property, pay $100 for the cost of prosecution, attend a course on theft deterrence and do 100 hours of volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity.
Van Winkle said he enjoys volunteer work. Last year, he was recognized by the Wellington Chamber of Commerce as “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” for his community service work.
His company paid $1.4 million for the Lantana property on Hypoluxo Island (next to the one where the items were taken), in October. The home will be featured on HGTV and DIY network’s Vanilla Ice Project.

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