Lil’ Kim, in trouble for a lotta lying, could be heading to the Big House real soon.
The pint-size rap diva was convicted Thursday of federal perjury charges for fibbing to a grand jury about a 2001 shootout in front of a Manhattan radio station involving members of her entourage and a rival hip-hop crew.
The 29-year-old Kim, referred to by her legal name of Kimberly Jones in court, was rung on counts of conspiracy and perjury for trying to protect her posse, but was acquitted of the most serious charge of obstruction of justice. Her assistant, Monique Dopwell, was also found guilty on the same charges.
The two women, who each face up to 20 years in a federal lockup when sentenced on June 24, shook their heads as the verdicts were read. Some supporters could be heard sobbing.
She declined to speak to reporters upon exiting the courthouse. Her label said in a statement that “Atlantic Records remains completely supportive of Lil’ Kim, one of hip-hop’s most talented artists.” Kim is still slated to release a new album on Atlantic later this year.
Kim’s lawyer, Mel Sachs, is expected to appeal. He had argued during the trial that Kim, known for her raunchy raps and low-cut tops, was the victim of a government witch hunt against gangsta rappers.
But the five-woman, seven-man jury didn’t buy it, and the panel returned the guilty verdicts after just two days of deliberations.
The Queen Bee got into this mess on Feb. 25, 2001, when members of her Junior M.A.F.I.A. crew faced off with rival hip-hopsters Capone-N-Noreaga and their posse outside of New York’s Hot 97. Shots were fired and one man took a bullet in the back and was seriously injured. (Coincidentally, on Feb. 28, the same day Kim’s trial began, another high-profile shooting took place in front of Hot 97, this one involving members of 50 Cent and the Game’s entourages.) According to prosecutors, Lil’ Kim told some pretty “preposterous lies,” the most egregious being that she had no relationship with one of the triggermen-Suif “Gutta” Jackson, a longtime friend and bodyguard-and that another, manager Damion Butler, wasn’t present at the time of the shooting.
But videotape of the incident contradicted her testimony, showing her standing beside Butler when the gunfire erupted. Jackson and Butler, who both pleaded guilty to weapons charges, turned state’s evidence against Kim and testified for the prosecution in her trial.
Two members of Junior M.A.F.I.A., Antoine “Banger” Spain and James “Lil’ Cease” Lloyd, also took the stand during the trial to counter Kim. Meanwhile, Kiam “Capone” Holley was called by prosecutors to describe the genesis of the beef between his group and Kim’s. Capone said the problem dated back to a rap Capone-N-Noreaga performed with Foxy Brown that dissed Kim.
Sachs, in turn, argued that Jones had no incentive to lie, didn’t recognize a hazy photo of Jackson police had shown her and was in such shock that she didn’t remember seeing Butler there that day.
In a bid to gain the jury’s sympathy, the Grammy-winning “Lady Marmalade” performer took the stand in her own defense, stressing her rags-to-riches story, playing up her relationship with slain rapper Notorious B.I.G., claiming Jackson and Butler were trying to get back at her after a falling out and assailing prosecutors, claiming they “badgered” her at the time she made the discredited statements.
In closing arguments on Tuesday, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Gitner asserted that Lil’ Kim felt she was “above the law” when she testified before the grand jury and that the case was ultimately about the superstar’s honesty.