FROM AJC: Atlanta rapper T.I. today pleaded guilty to three weapons charges in federal court in Atlanta. T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., entered his plea shortly after 1:30 p.m. He pleaded guilty to two counts of illegally possessing machine guns and silencers, and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
"While I'm not looking forward to being incarcerated, I have a long road of redemption to travel," Harris said, reading a statement outside the Atlanta federal courthouse shortly before 3 p.m. "I am dedicated and committed to that."
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pannell Jr. scheduled Harris' sentencing a year from now, on March 27, 2009. If Harris abides by the conditions set in his plea agreement, he will receive a prison sentence of one year plus one day. Because the sentence is longer than one year, Harris will be eligible to earn 15 percent time off for good behavior.Harris also was fined $100,000.
Over the next year, Harris must perform at least 1,000 hours of community service, which includes speaking to "at-risk young people," promoting respect for law enforcement, and opposing violence, illegal and reckless use of firearms, illegal drugs and gang activity.After the plea, U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said Harris' agreement to speak to young people about the mistakes he has made should prevent and deter some from committing crimes and ruining their own lives.
This unusual type of outreach, Nahmias said, merits a sentence reduction for Harris, just as it would another defendant whose cooperation helps prosecutors obtain a conviction.
Harris did not make any statements during the hearing, offering only polite replies of "yes" and "no" to the judge's questions.
"Are you guilty of these charges?" Panell asked Harris.
"Yes, your Honor," said Harris, who donned a gray suit at the hearing.
If Harris does not abide by the terms of the plea agreement, Panell can sentence him up to 57 months in prison. In addition, Harris could face a sentence of up yo 97 months in prison if Panell finds that Harris has not accepted responsibility for his actions.