A judge sentenced Rapper T.I. to one year and a day behind bars on federal weapons charges on Friday.
The 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris, entered court smiling as he greeted his lawyers and family members. He wore a dark gray suit and black dress shirt and tie for sentencing.
“Today I would like to say thank you to some, and apologize to all,” the rapper told U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. at the 1 and 1/2 hour session.
Harris pleaded guilty last March after he was arrested in 2007, attempting to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers. The arrest on Oct. 13 of that year occurred blocks from where he was to headline the BET Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta hours later.
He will have between 30 and 60 days to report to prison. Harris already has completed about 1,000 hours of community service and has warned youths about the pitfalls of guns, drugs, violence. He will need to complete 470 additional hours.
“Everything I learned was through trial and error,” Harris also told the judge. “I’ve learned lessons in my life to put in my music so people won’t make the same mistakes as I.”
At Friday’s hearing, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young spoke on Harris’ behalf.
“He’s been able to do the work I’ve been trying to accomplish for so long in stopping violence in this country,” Young told the judge.
Harris had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, until he cut a deal and pleaded guilty last March to the federal weapons charge and was sentenced to one year and a day in prison.
Pannell said he was pleased with Harris’ progress through his community service.
“I think this has been a great experiment,” the judge said. “I hope this experience can lead to other experiments so others won’t make the same mistake at all. I congratulate you.”
Harris initially pleaded not guilty and was released on a $3 million bond before being placed under house arrest.
Ed Garland, one of his attorneys, said they are not sure where he will serve his sentence.
Upon his release, Harris is to be placed on three years of supervised release. He also will be credited for 305 days of home detention he already has served and must serve an additional 60 days, authorities said.
Harris agreed to community service to avoid a lengthy sentence. He already has made 262 public appearances as part of that deal.
Much of that work has been done with children.
Although he has taken part in a voting campaign and had an MTV reality show, “Road to Redemption” to scare teens straight, that was not part of the community service.
Harris is one of the co-chief executives of Grand Hustle Records and one of Atlantic Records’ most successful artists.
His sixth album, “Paper Trail,” has sold nearly two million copies. It also charted two smash No. 1 songs, and a third with Justin Timberlake is near the top of the charts.
T.I. said fear was the reason he tried to buy the guns. His best friend, Philant Johnson, was killed following a post-performance party in Cincinnati in 2006. A man was found guilty last year in the murder case.
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