British-born hip-hop pioneer Ricky Walters, known to his subjects as Slick Rick the Ruler, walked free on Friday after 17 months in an immigration detention center in Florida. And in an odd twist, an impersonator of the '80s rapper answered to harassment charges from Walters' wife in a New York court on the same day. "Feels good," Walters said of his release Friday from the Immigration and Naturalization Service detention facility in Bradenton, FL, where he had been held without bond since June 2002 under the threat of deportation. "I look at it as a new beginning," he added. After 17 months of cellblock limbo, the self-crowned Ruler once again enjoys permanent residency status. He now returns home to New York to reckon with an impersonating pretender to the throne that allegedly harassed his wife and attempted to appropriate his assets through forgery, fraud, and identity theft. Reportedly, the identity thief even dressed up as a circa-1990 version of the rapper in gold chains and an eye-patch and answered his home telephone as Slick Rick. Ricky "Slick Rick" Walters, a convicted felon, has battled the specter of deportation since 1995. U.S. immigration law dictates that any foreign national who serves more than five years in prison for a felony conviction faces automatic deportation; Walters served five years and 12 days in prison from 1991 to 1996 for second-degree attempted murder. He has performed in the public eye frequently since returning from prison and released an album on Def Jam in 1999, but apparently unbeknownst to the rapper an order for his deportation was issued in 1997. In late May 2002, Walters performed on a Caribbean cruise ship along with entertainers Earth, Wind & Fire and the O'Jays. Upon the boat's return to Miami, the INS charged him with voluntarily deporting himself and then illegally re-entering the country. Walters said he never received written notice from the Bureau of Immigration Affairs that crossing the U.S. border would constitute self-deportation, and contested INS claims arguing lack of due process. Source SOHH