February 3, 2023

A Bergen County rapper, who recently served a sentence for procuring in California, was carrying a gun when Ridgefield Park police investigating possible violations of a restraining order found him at a local restaurant, authorities said With.

Saleem Bligen, 41, had fled when officers responded to a call at an apartment building where he once lived at Bergen Avenue and Mount Vernon Street just after 4 p.m. Thursday, December 1, Lt. Art Jensen.

Officers Kenneth Knebl, Joe Avila, Christopher Dooley and Lavrone Green searched the nearby business district and found Bligen at a local restaurant, the lieutenant said.

Bligen spotted her and quickly ducked into a bathroom before emerging to speak to Knebl, he said.

Knebl searched the bathroom and found a fully loaded Sig Sauer P320 9mm pistol on the windowsill, Jensen said.

Officers said they also found a large-capacity magazine with hollow bullets and a small amount of prescription drugs.

Bligen was taken into custody and charged with various gun and ammunition offenses, including being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

He remained held at Bergen County Jail Friday while awaiting his first appearance in the Central Judicial Processing Court.

Bligen, who has recently lived in Teaneck and Plainfield, got his start in freestyle battle rapping by winning several competitions on the MTV series Fight Klub in the early 2000s.

He later spent several months in a California correctional facility after pleading guilty to charges of procuring, subterfuging a witness and assault two years ago.

Contra Costa County authorities originally charged him with human trafficking, but dropped those charges as part of the plea deal.

Bligen had “intentionally and unlawfully” violated the rights of the alleged victim, “by forcing her into prostitution,” it said at the time.

According to a criminal complaint, he was also charged with assaulting the woman, stealing her Lexus and trying to intimidate her into not cooperating with authorities.

As part of his plea deal, he was required to pay $6,000 in damages and stay away from the victim until 2030.

He also told his followers, “I would never force a woman to do anything against her will. That’s not how I was brought up. I’m sorry for my fans, I’m sorry for those who see this as a disappointment. Nobody is more disappointed than me.

“To be honest with myself, I haven’t lived the most righteous life I could…even though my intentions were good, the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Bligen/Jones said in an audio message to fans.

Bligen posted a video on his Instagram on Thursday (under) shortly before the arrest.

WARNING: Offensive language, obscenity.

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