Is Lil’ Kim taking one for rappers everywhere?
Faced with a federal perjury rap, the diminutive performer held a press conference Monday, where she declared that she is the victim of a “witch hunt against the hip-hop industry.”
Kim, referred to on a federal indictment by her legal name, Kimberly Jones, is facing charges of conspiracy, perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice stemming from a shooting involving a member of her entourage. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years on the obstruction count and 35 years maximum on all the other charges.
On Monday, the Grammy-winning rapper again proclaimed her not-guiltiness. “I am completely innocent of the charges I have been accused of, and am very confident that my codefendants and I will win this case in the courtroom,” she said in a brief statement.
“Unfortunately,” said her lawyer, Mel Sachs, “people have a certain opinion of those involved in the hip-hop music world.”
The 29-year-old Brooklyn-born hip-hopster’s troubles date back to Feb. 25, 2001, when a shootout occurred between members of her posse, Junior M.A.F.I.A., and the rival rap crew of Capone-N-Noreaga outside Manhattan’s Hot 97 radio station.
No one was killed in the crossfire, but one man was seriously injured after taking a bullet in the back.
One of the trigger men was Suif Jackson, Lil’ Kim’s bodyguard. (He has already pleaded guilty to firing a machine gun during the confrontation and faces more than 13 years in federal prison.)
When authorities questioned Kim about the incident, she allegedly fudged the details about who was involved and what she witnessed.
Prosecutors–who had a security tape purportedly showing Kim witnessing the gun battle, then darting into a limousine with some of the alleged shooters–took the case before a grand jury, which in turn indicted Kim, former manager Damion Butler, assistant Monique Dopwell and business manager Hillary Weston on various charges stemming from the gun-play incident and subsequent cover-up. All four have entered not guilty pleas.
The trial was originally scheduled for November, but U.S. District Court Judge Gerard Lynch reset the case for Feb. 28 to give the defense more time to prepare.