Lil' Kim charged with perjury and obstruction

Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

NEW YORK -- Federal prosecutors charged rapper Lil' Kim on Wednesday with perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying to a grand jury about a 2001 machine gun shootout that left one rival injured.

Prosecutors say the entertainer, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, committed perjury when she was questioned during three separate grand jury appearances about whether two of her associates were involved when gunfire erupted outside radio station WQHT, or Hot 97, in Manhattan, in February 2001.

The bawdy rapper was arraigned late in the afternoon at U.S. District Court in New York after surrendering to authorities. In a soft voice, Jones said she was not guilty. She was freed under a $500,000 personal recognizance bond.

If convicted, Jones, 29, could face a maximum sentence of more than 40 years in prison.

Lil' Kim -- An article in Thursday's Section A about federalprosecutors filing charges against rapper Lil' Kim and her entourageidentified a weapon as a Mac-11 machine gun. The weapon is asubmachine gun.

The fifth-floor courtroom was packed when the petite rapper, her long, orange-blond hair standing out against a conservative black suit, sat down at the defense table with her lawyer, Mel Sachs.

"Kim has been unfairly targeted and unjustly charged because of who she is," Sachs said after the court appearance. "I'm confident that the case will be completely dismissed."

Prosecutors also charged Jones' co-manager Damion Butler and her bodyguard Suif Jackson with weapons violations, alleging that they were involved in the Feb. 25, 2001, shooting.

Jackson, 34, was charged with possessing a Mac-11 machine gun and transporting it across state lines. Butler, 33, was charged with possession of a firearm. Both pleaded not guilty and were held without bail.

Jones' friend Monique Dopwell was charged with conspiracy to commit perjury and obstruction of justice. Dopwell also pleaded not guilty and was released on a $75,000 personal recognizance bond.

Jones and Dopwell, 32, are not considered suspects in the shooting, prosecutors said, but are considered key witnesses.

Authorities said the shooting was part of an ongoing feud between two rival rap groups, Junior M.A.F.I.A. and Murder Unit. Jones is aligned with Junior M.A.F.I.A., and rival rap artist Foxy Brown has ties to Murder Unit. The two entertainers have exchanged insults in their lyrics.

When the two factions met outside the radio station, an altercation broke out and Butler and Jackson fired at their rivals, according to the indictment. A member of Murder Unit, Efrain Ocasio, was wounded.

Officials say a surveillance video captured one of the shooters fleeing in Jones' limousine. The next day, police say, Jones refused to identify the people who had accompanied her to the radio station. She later testified that Butler was not with her that night and that she did not know Jackson, officials say.

It is unclear how the charges will affect Jones' career. Known for her sexy attire and long praised for her rapping skills, Jones' 2003 "La Bella Mafia" CD sold more than 1 million copies.

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