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Gary Younge
Rapper Lil' Kim sentenced to a year and a day for lying about shootout

Dressed in a blue trouser suit that was far more sober than the revealing outfits in which she performs, Lil' Kim became the first prominent female rap artist to go to jail owing to a fracas involving her entourage.

Given that she could have faced a 20-year sentence, and that the prosecutors sought three years, her punishment was regarded as lenient.

District Judge Gerard Lynch said he had thought about the public perception of sending a young black entertainer to prison for far longer than Martha Stewart, who spent only five months in prison and remains under house arrest.

He said the case against Lil' Kim was "unquestionably more serious", but leniency was down to her contrition.

"You are sending that message that telling the truth has an important value," he said. "Going to jail to protect violent men with guns is not heroic."

Before the sentence was passed Lil' Kim, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, spoke briefly, conceding that she had lied during her grand jury testimony.

"At the time I thought it was the right thing to do, but I now know it was wrong," she said, asking the judge to consider this particular indiscretion in the context of her other achievements.

"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 godfearing good person."

The rapper, who will begin her sentence on September 19, 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 since pleaded guilty to gun charges.

Jurors at Lil' Kim's perjury trial saw security photos showing Mr Butler opening the door for her, and two witnesses say they saw her at the station with the two men. The gun battle occurred outside the hip-hop radio station Hot 97, when Lil' Kim's posse 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 which contained an insult to Lil' Kim. One man was hurt in the shootout that followed.

Hot 97 is the station where the entourages of 50 Cent and the Game were involved in a shootout in February.

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