Top-selling rappers Ja Rule and Lil Wayne were arraigned on felony gun charges Monday following their separate arrests after a hip-hop concert at which both had performed.
A judge set high bails and bonds for the rappers and two other men, but the defendants were expected to be freed immediately, their bonds secured by Ja Rule’s $3.5 million house in New Jersey, bail bondsman Ira Judelson said.
Ja Rule, of Saddle Brook, N.J., and two men with him were stopped for speeding around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, and a police computer check of their 2004 Maybach luxury car revealed it had no insurance and a suspended registration, prosecutors said.
When police stopped the car, which costs about $250,000 to $400,000, they “detected a strong odor of marijuana,” prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court. A loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun was recovered from the rear driver’s-side door, she said.
Lil Wayne, who is from New Orleans but lives in Miami, was arrested around 11:30 p.m. while dressing in a tour bus near the Beacon Theater, where the rappers had performed, Illuzzi-Orbon said. Approaching police officers smelled marijuana, and as they got closer Lil Wayne, 24, tossed aside a bag that contained a loaded .40-caliber handgun, she said.
Police believed that another person, so far uncharged, had stuffed 7 pounds of marijuana down the bus’ toilet as officers approached, prosecutors said.
All the defendants were charged with second-degree illegal gun possession, which is punishable by up to four years in prison upon conviction.
The judge set bond at $150,000 for Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, and at $70,000 for Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter. He set bond at $20,000 for Mohamed Gamal, Ja Rule’s driver and limo service owner, and at $150,000 for Dennis Cherry, Ja Rule’s road manager.
Ja Rule, 31, rose to fame in the mid-1990s after appearing on a hit song with Jay-Z and later went on to record platinum-selling solo albums.
Lil Wayne’s albums include “Tha Block Is Hot,” “Lights Out,” “Tha Carter” and “Tha Carter II.”