Atlanta rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris was sentenced to one year and a day in jail on felony weapons charges on Friday by Northern Georgia District judge Judge Charles Pannell Jr., according to MTV.com.
Harris (“ATL,” “American Gangster”) struck a plea deal that required him to complete 1,000 hours of community service before he turned himself in, an additional 500 hours after completing his sentence and pay a $100,000 fine. After his release he will have to submit to an audit, drug counseling and home confinement for 60 days.
Surrounded by his family and supporters such as Bishop Eddie Long and Ambassador Andrew Young who spoke on his behalf, the father of five spoke for ten minutes before the court about the mistakes he made as a youth that resulted in his misguided adult decisions. He also admitted that the violent death of his bodyguard and best friend Philant Johnson in 2006 influenced his poor decision in obtaining illegal firearms.
“Your Honor, perhaps if I didn’t make the mistakes that I did as a youth, maybe I could have armed myself legally,” he said, and then thanked the government’s legal team for their “vision.”
The judge expressed his pleasure in T.I. completing what he called a successful and “experimental” plea deal that he hoped would inspire future cases to try.
During his closing remarks, Judge Pannell caused laughter when he singled out the U.S. attorney responsible for the deal and joked, “If this didn’t work, I’d send you to jail, Mr. Harris — but the attorney, I’d probably throw him out the twenty-third-floor window.”
Scheduled to report to prison in the next six to eight weeks, Tip has prior commitments that will prolong the beginning of his sentence until May 19.
In an interview with ESSENCE.com, T.I’s fiancée, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, expressed her hopes that he might receive an early release. “I’m praying he gets out sooner. I’m pretty sure when the day comes for him to leave I’m going to be very sad and lonely. Although I know our family is going to be straight [financially], I’m still going to miss him like crazy because I got used to spending time with him when he had to be home. I’m going to go with him and stay with him until he gets ready to walk through that [prison] door.”