ABC News’ Matt Gutman reports:
R&B superstar Usher has reportedly flown to Panama to meet with his troubled protégé, Justin Bieber, in the wake of Bieber’s recent string of runs-ins with the law.
According to the gossip website TMZ, Usher arrived in Panama with Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, and both men are staying at Bieber’s resort.
Bieber’s apparently posed with fans, and is accompanied by Chantel Jeffries, the model who was his passenger when Miami Beach police arrested him on Thursday for alleged drag racing and other offenses.
Howard Bragman, a public relations expert and ABC News consultant, said this is a critical time for Bieber.
“Justin has to understand that he’s in a dangerous place,” Bragman said. “He has to understand that there’s real harm being done and he has to understand that unless something changes, this is going to end ugly.”
He believes Usher may be able to get through to Bieber.
“He’s someone that Justin respects, he’s got a few years on him, he knows what it’s like,” Bragman said.
Bieber was the first performer signed to Raymond Braun Media Group, a partnership between Usher and Braun.
Bieber, 19, was arrested early Thursday morning in Miami Beach for allegedly drag racing in a yellow Lamborghini and driving under the influence. Police say he failed a field sobriety test, and charged him with first-degree misdemeanors.
Police allege the pop singer admitted to having beer, marijuana and prescription drugs in his system.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles police launched an investigation after a neighbor’s accusation that Bieber threw eggs at his house and caused $20,000 worth of damage.
Bieber has not been charged in the egg-throwing incident, but he could face a felony charge of vandalism if evidence indicates he was the culprit. Police could decide this week on whether to bring charges.
Singer Ariana Grande, who was the opening act on Bieber’s “Believe” tour, is showing her support for Bieber.
“It’s gotten to a point where I just want him to be okay,” she said, speaking in an interview on Boston’s Mix 104.1 radio. “He’s the most visible and yet isolated human being I’ve ever met.”
Last year police investigated the singer for alleged reckless driving in Calabasas, his affluent California neighborhood. Angry neighbors have accused him of speeding through the gated community in his white Ferrari.
Bieber has also has run-ins with the paparazzi who constantly pursue him. In a lawsuit filed June in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, 56-year-old photographer Jeffrey Binion said the singer ordered his bodyguard to “forcibly” take Binion’s memory card after the lensmen snapped a picture of Bieber outside a recording studio.
In another incident, Reuters video captured the singer being restrained by his bodyguard as he shouted expletives at photographers in Britain.
Representatives for Bieber had “no comment” on the singer’s trip to Panama when reached by ABC News.
ABC News’ Luchina Fisher and Michael Rothman contributed to this report.