Popular rapper T.I. was sentenced to a year and a day in prison after pleading guilty to possessing three machine guns and two silencers, all bought from an undercover federal agent and just a fraction of weapons taken from his house and car that day, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. James Harold Ingram, an unknown, got two years in prison when federal agents, investigating reports he had a moonshine operation, arrested him with four rifles and marijuana he had planned to sell. T.I., whose legal name is Clifford Harris Jr., had something to offer beyond his cooperation and admission of guilt: his fame, his name and his potential influence over kids who might think guns and violence are cool. Ingram had nothing.
Was T.I.’s penalty lenient? U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said it was negotiated because Harris and his attorneys offered a plan to prevent crime. His prison sentence begins only after he has spent at least 1,000 hours preaching the message that violence and guns are bad. With earned time off, his prison stint could be cut to just over 10 months. It’s his star quality that makes the plan workable, legal experts say. “He got it because he’s a celebrity and has a bigger impact and is able to offer more to offset the sentence,” said defense attorney Michael Trost, a former prosecutor. “Do I think he got it just because he’s a celebrity? No.” Former U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander said, if “he manages to deter five or six kids from a life of crime, something like this could work. It is unusual because he’s getting a really good deal.”