T.I. to be sentenced to prison Friday

Prayers going out to T.I. tonight….Stay strong!

By BILL RANKIN

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Federal weapons charges, with their accompanying harsh sentences, are enough to take anyone down. Yet since his guilty plea a year ago, Atlanta rapper T.I. has enjoyed the greatest success of his career.

His CD, “Paper Trail,” debuted atop the Billboard charts in October. He produced two No. 1 singles, including “Live Your Life,” featuring Rihanna. Last month, he appeared at the Grammys, where he won an award for best rap performance by a duo or group.

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T.I. pleaded guilty to illegal firearms possession and being a convicted felon with a firearm.
Related links:

* Photos: T.I.’s guns
* Timeline leading to arrest
* Letters of support sent to court (pdf)
* Complete coverage of T.I.

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• Atlanta and Fulton County news

But T.I., one of the world’s best-known rap artists, is about to take a one-year hiatus at a federal detention facility. On Friday, as part of his extraordinary deal with federal prosecutors, T.I. will be sentenced a year after his guilty plea.

According to the plea agreement, T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., will be sentenced to one year and a day.

The extra day means T.I. can carve 15 percent off of his sentence with good behavior. Under U.S. Bureau of Prison rules, inmates can earn such credit only if they are sentenced to longer than a year in prison. T.I. should serve an estimated 298 days — or a little less than 10 months. He is expected to get credit for the two weeks he sat in jail after his arrest and before posting a $3 million bond.

T.I.’s troubles began Oct. 13, 2007, just hours before he was to receive two awards at the BET Hip-Hop Awards ceremony in Atlanta. He was arrested in a Midtown parking lot by federal agents for trying to buy machine guns and silencers. A search of his car and home yielded a number of handguns and rifles, a problem because T.I. had a prior felony conviction for cocaine distribution.

T.I. pleaded guilty to illegal firearms possession and being a convicted felon with a firearm.

Federal sentencing guidelines recommended T.I. serve at least four years and nine months behind bars.

But T.I.’s defense team worked out an unheard-of deal with federal prosecutors: If T.I. would perform at least 1,000 hours of community service, telling kids about the pitfalls of crime, drugs and gangs and encouraging them to respect the law, he could surrender to the Bureau of Prisons a year later and get a reduced sentence.

Area criminal defense lawyers howled in protest, saying T.I. traded his celebrity for leniency. Federal prosecutors countered the rapper’s influential message would help prevent crime.

T.I. has fulfilled his part of the bargain, Steve Sadow, one of the rapper’s lawyers, said.

“T.I. took this opportunity and ran with it beyond anyone’s expectations.”

A sentencing memorandum filed Wednesday by T.I.’s defense team says the rapper has complied with all the requirements of his plea agreement. This includes serving 300 days of home confinement, attending more than 260 events and earning 1,006 hours of community service credit.

T.I. has been to 25 states and spoken to tens of thousands of teens and adults.

Over the past year, he went to 58 schools, 12 Boys and Girls Clubs, nine churches and other community functions. He was visited two Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, one in Columbus and another in DeKalb County.

After T.I. spoke to 160 high school teenagers at the Georgia Supreme Court, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears called the rapper’s presentation “outstanding.”

“You have the courage to carefully search your soul, oftentimes wrestling with demons that the rest of us are terrified to disturb,” Sears wrote in a letter attached to the sentencing memo. “I am sure that you have touched many young lives.”

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2 Responses to “T.I. to be sentenced to prison Friday”

  1. […] Original post by thehiphopentertainmentlawproject […]

  2. […] Rome News by Watson put an intriguing blog post on T.I. to be sentenced to prison FridayHere’s a quick excerptFederal sentencing guidelines recommended T.I. serve at least four years and nine months … Area criminal defense lawyers howled in protest […]

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