Rapper Ja Rule Sentenced to Prison in Gun Case

Wednesday, Jun 8, 2011  |  Updated 3:49 PM EDT
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Multiplatinum-selling rapper Ja Rule is headed to a New York prison for up to two years in a gun case.

The rapper-actor — whose gravelly voice, thuggish tough talk and duets with R&B divas made him one of rap's stars in the early 2000s — was sentenced Wednesday.

"My last day out," he tweeted Tuesday afternoon, adding that he was spending it at the movies with his family.

Ja Rule, 35, pleaded guilty in December to attempted criminal possession of a weapon, resolving a nearly four-year-old case.

Police said they found a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun in a rear door of his $250,000-plus Maybach sports car, which they'd said they'd stopped for speeding as he left a star-laden concert at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre on July 22, 2007.

Rap superstar Lil Wayne was arrested separately after headlining the same show. He later pleaded guilty to the same charge, spending about eight months in a city jail last year.

Born Jeffrey Atkins, Ja Rule emerged as a hardcore rapper in the late 1990s but then became known for his collaborations with female pop singers, including Jennifer Lopez and Ashanti. He scored a best rap album Grammy Award nomination in 2002 with "Pain Is Love." He also has appeared in movies, including the 2001 film "The Fast and the Furious" and 2003's "Scary Movie 3."

He's recently been wrapping up a new album, "Pain Is Love 2," but he told "Good Day New York" he's also been trying to prepare himself mentally for prison. He lives in Upper Saddle River, N.J., with his wife and three children.

Meanwhile, he also pleaded guilty in a New Jersey federal court in March to failing to pay taxes on more than $3 million in income.

Ja Rule had some previous brushes with the law, including pleading guilty to assault for punching someone at a Toronto nightclub in 2004. He was fined $1,200.

He recently told TMZ.com he plans to keep busy behind bars by writing a book, getting his GED and possibly taking up the guitar.

"I'm gonna try to make good of my time while I'm inside," he said.

His expected sentence will make him the latest in a long line of rappers to do time. Hip-hop stars including Tupac Shakur, Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Shyne, Mystikal, Gucci Mane and T.I. have been in jail or prison for periods ranging from months to years.

Under state prison policies, Ja Rule might be able to shave up to six months off his sentence by meeting requirements for good behavior and other standards.

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