By Josh Grossberg
Lil’ Kim has got a big date…with a jury.
A federal judge on Monday set Nov. 25 as the day the hip-hop diva will stand trial on eight felony charges for allegedly fibbing to a federal grand jury investigating a 2001 shootout involving her posse at a Manhattan radio station.
U.S. District Court Judge Gerard Lynch opted for a November trial after prosecutors said they needed time to go over more than 22 boxes of documents and other material seized during a search of the queen bee’s offices.
The diminutive Kim, real name Kimberly Jones, was indicted last week along with three members of her entourage–manager Damien Butler, bodyguard Suif Jackson and assistant Monique Dopwell–with conspiracy to commit perjury, making false statements and obstructing justice.
The 28-year-old Brooklyn-born rapper, famous for her skimpy apparel and raunchy raps, turned up at the pretrial hearing decked out in a conservative pinstripe vest and large brown leather belt and buckle. She made no comment to the judge or to reporters outside.
Lil’ Kim pleaded innocent to all charges last Wednesday and remains free on $500,000 bond. Her attorney, Mel Sachs, told the press after the hearing that the coming trial will prove his client was being unfairly targeted simply because of her celebrity status.
“Kim is not a criminal,” Sachs told reporters following the hearing. “These charges have been extracted out of context, magnified out of proportion. She’s been singled out and used because of who she is in the music industry.”
Sachs has also asked the judge that Kim be tried separately from her associates because she’s not facing federal weapons charges stemming from the shooting on Feb. 25, 2001.
If convicted on all counts, Kim and Dopwell, 32, could each face up to 30 years in prison. Butler, 33, and Jackson, 34, are both currently jailed on state charges. Each could get up to 10 years in prison on the federal weapons charges.
According to prosecutors, however, Lil’ Kim got herself into the huge pickle by making up a story about how the gunfight outside the Hot 97 radio station went down. She was appearing at the station for an interview with her rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A.
Authorities say the incident was sparked when Kim’s entourage, upon leaving the building, bumped into the crew of rival rap duo Capone-N-Noreaga. Shots were fired, leaving one man seriously injured with a bullet in his back.
Earlier reports suggested that the shootout might have stemmed from Kim’s feud with fellow rapper Foxy Brown, a pal of Capone-N-Noreaga.
According to the indictment, Kim refused to tell cops the names of her posse who had accompanied her to the interview. The Grammy-winning rapper is also accused of lying under oath by giving false information about what she witnessed, what may have possibly motivated the shooting and who was involved. Prosecutors accused her of lying about Butler’s whereabouts and denying she ever knew Jackson.
The D.A.’s office says that Kim was introduced to Butler and Jackson in the mid ’90s by late pal the Notorious B.I.G. while she was a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A. Prosecutors say Butler not only worked out of Kim’s home on occasion, but both Jackson and Butler were frequent houseguests of the rapper.
Prosecutors also have a videotape allegedly showing Kim witnessing the gun battle, then darting into a limousine with some of the alleged shooters.
Calls to Sachs were not immediately returned Tuesday.
The trial is expected to last three weeks and wrap up in early December.