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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The singer who dressed as a policeman in the flamboyant late 1970s disco band "Village People" has been arrested after disappearing while drug and gun charges against him were pending, officials said on Monday.

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Victor Willis, who co-wrote some of the band's hits such as "In the Navy" and "YMCA" has had a number of run-ins with the law since he left the group in 1980 and now faces as much as five years in prison, said Morley Pitt, assistant district attorney in San Mateo County south of San Francisco.

"It's just sad that his life has spiralled down to the point where in all likelihood he's going to go to prison," Pitt, who said he enjoys the song "YMCA", told Reuters. "You never like to see anybody go to prison, let alone somebody who is 54 years old."

Willis was arrested last year on charges of possessing a gun and cocaine, but he disappeared after agreeing to a plea deal that set a maximum sentence of 16 months behind bars, Pitt said.

He was re-arrested on Sunday and the singer is due in court on Tuesday.

Because he went missing, the San Francisco-area resident now faces as much as four years, four months in prison on those charges, as well as an additional eight months on possible new narcotics charges, Pitt said.

Easily remembered for their outlandish costumes including a construction worker, a policeman, a cowboy and a leather-clad biker, the Village People were one of the best known bands of the disco era. Their song "YMCA" is also a favourite gay anthem.

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