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Grammy-winning rapper Lil’ Kim was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in prison and fined $50,000 for lying to a federal grand jury to protect friends involved in a 2001 shootout outside a Manhattan radio station.
It was far less than the 20-year maximum she could have gotten and the nearly three-year sentence prosecutors had sought.
U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch said he had considered the public perception of sending a young black entertainer to prison far longer than Martha Stewart, who spent five months in prison and remains under house arrest.
While many rappers have served time in prison, Lil’ Kim, who was convicted in March, is the first big-name female artist to do so.
Before the sentence was handed down, Lil’ Kim spoke briefly, her voice breaking. She admitted to lying to the grand jury and at her trial. “At the time I thought it was the right thing to do but I now know it was wrong,” she said.
She also asked the judge to weigh more than just this one event. “I have worked hard my entire life for everything I have, everything I have accomplished,” Lil’ Kim said. “I ask you to consider my entire life’s work and not just the days in the grand jury and on the witness stand in the courtroom. I’m a God-fearing, good person.”
The rapper has to report to prison by Sept. 19. Her lawyers are hoping she will be sent to the facility in Danbury, Conn., so that she can be closer to her mother. She didn’t say anything as she left the courthouse.
Rapper lied to grand jury
Lil’ Kim, who turns 30 next week, was the sidekick and mistress of the late Notorious B.I.G. As a solo artist, she has become known for her revealing outfits and raunchy lyrics. She won a Grammy in 2001 for her part in the hit remake of “Lady Marmalade.”
The rapper told the grand jury she did not notice two of her close friends at the scene of the shootout — her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif Jackson, known as “Gutta.” Both have pleaded guilty to gun charges.
Jurors at Lil’ Kim’s trial saw radio station security photos that depicted Butler opening a door for the rap star, and two witnesses who once made records with Lil’ Kim said they saw her at the station with Butler and Jackson.
The gun battle happened outside WQHT-FM, known as Hot 97, when Lil’ Kim’s entourage crossed paths with a rival rap group, Capone-N-Noreaga.
Lil’ Kim’s group confronted the others about the Capone-N-Noreaga song “Bang, Bang” that contained an insult to Lil’ Kim from rival Foxy Brown. One man was hurt in the shootout that followed.
Hot 97 is the same station where the posses of 50 Cent and The Game traded bullets in February.
At the trial, Lil’ Kim testified that she had a falling out after the shooting with Butler and with Antoine “Banger” Spain and James “Lil’ Cease” Lloyd, the two witnesses who said they saw her with Butler and Jackson.
She said they were freeloading at her New Jersey townhouse. “I was just fed up,” she told jurors. “They were taking advantage of me.”
Her career began with an impromptu street performance for Notorious B.I.G. in their Brooklyn neighborhood. She became “Queen Bee,” the only woman in his otherwise all-male clique.
Her 1996 debut album, “Hard Core,” was laced with sexually explicit lyrics and became a big hit, thanks to songs like “Crush On You” and others with unmentionable titles.
In other legal problems, Lil’ Kim was sued earlier this year by two men who say she failed to pay them for songwriting and performing services for the 2003 album “La Bella Mafia,” which sold more than 1 million copies.
When she arrived at the courthouse Wednesday, some fans were there to proclaim their support.
One man’s T-shirt read “Free Lil’ Kim” and “Real Men Don’t Snitch.”