Friday, April 17, 2009

Hip Hop: Some Suggest Rapper TI Got Off Easy on Prison Sentence

One thing is now certain: T.I. is going to prison. A federal judge today approved a negotiated plea for one year plus a day in federal prison for trying to buy machine guns and ammo from undercover agents in 2007. As part of the deal, the rapper was also sentenced to 1,500 hours of community service, a $100,000 fine, and one year of home confinement (much of which he has already served). T.I. could reduce his time behind bars to about 10 months with good behavior. He is scheduled to voluntarily report to prison some time after May 19.

But is he getting off too easy? Given that federal sentencing guidelines recommend that a person who pleads guilty to these charges should serve four years and nine months in prison, some Atlanta defense attorneys have suggested that the megastar was able to use his celebrity to reduce the punishment. "This has been an unusual plea from the very beginning," says Page Pate, a criminal defense attorney with the Atlanta firm Pate & Brody and former chairman of the Criminal Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association. "But they [apparently] felt he was in the unique position because of the things he could do with his celebrity that other people couldn't do. Is it right or wrong? I won’t get into that. But is it fair? No. Joe Smith isn’t going to get this deal."

But David E. Nahmias, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, who approved the deal,

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