Rapper T.I. pleads guilty
UPDATED 2:27 p.m. PT, March 27, 2008
ATLANTA -- Rapper T.I. pleaded guilty Thursday to federal weapons possession charges, and will receive a sentence that includes prison time after he completes a period of community service.
In the year that he is awaiting sentencing, T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, must complete at least 1,000 hours of a total 1,500 hours of community service, talking to youth groups about the pitfalls of guns, gangs and drugs.
He will be sentenced to serve about 12 months in prison after completing the community service, officials said. His prison time could be increased or reduced, depending on his fulfillment of the terms of the deal and good behavior, they said.
Harris, 27, who was dressed in a gray business suit, told the judge he understands the terms of the agreement.
He pleaded guilty to possession of unregistered machine guns and silencers, unlawful possession of machine guns and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.
Harris is one of pop music's most successful artists. His sixth album, "T.I. vs. T.I.P.," was released July 3, debuting at No. 1. He appeared in the 2007 film "American Gangster," which starred Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.
U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said Harris will remain "under strict bond conditions" during the next year.
He said Harris' sentencing was deferred "to allow him to perform a unique and extensive program -- at least 1,000 hours -- of community service. That service will focus on using his high public visibility and his talents to tell at-risk young people about the mistakes he has made and to educate them about the dangers of violence, guns, gangs and drugs."
Nahmias said under the agreement, Harris will have to serve a year in prison and three years of supervised home detention, perform a total of 1,500 hours of community service and pay a $100,000 fine.
Failure to fulfill his obligations will net Harris a "much longer prison sentence," Nahmias said.
Harris spoke to the media briefly after the hearing.
"I'd like to thank God for blessing me with a second chance in life and success," he said, adding that he takes the charges against him very seriously.
"I'm looking forward to turning this negative time in my life into a positive," he said. "I know I have a long road of redemption to travel."
He was arrested Oct. 13, just blocks away and hours before he was to headline the BET Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta.
Harris was charged with possession of unregistered machine guns and silencers, as well as possession of firearms by a convicted felon. He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count.
He was allegedly trying to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers. He initially pleaded not guilty, and has been under house arrest since he was released on $3 million bond on Oct. 26.
U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. must approve the deal.
Harris, who is co-CEO of Grand Hustle Records, grew up in Atlanta. His first taste of success came with his 2003 album, "Trap Muzik." In 2004, warrants were issued for his arrest on probation violations for a drug conviction, and he was sentenced to three years behind bars.
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