NEW YORK – Rap diva Lil' Kim (search) was convicted Thursday of lying to a federal grand jury to protect friends involved in a shootout outside a radio station.
Lil' Kim and her assistant were both convicted of perjury and conspiracy but acquitted of obstruction of justice. They each face up to 20 years in prison; sentencing was set for June 24.
The 29-year-old former sidekick and mistress of the late Notorious B.I.G. (search), known for her revealing outfits and raunchy raps, testified that she did not notice two close friends at the scene of the 2001 shootout — her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif "Gutta" Jackson (search). Both men have since pleaded guilty to gun charges.
The jury saw radio station security photos showing Butler opening a door for Lil' Kim. And witnesses Antoine "Banger" Spain and James "Lil' Cease" Lloyd, who once teamed with Lil' Kim in the group Junior M.A.F.I.A (search), testified that Butler and Jackson were at the station with her.
Both defendants shook their heads as the verdicts were delivered. Lil' Kim's supporters broke out in sobs. After the verdict, when asked whether she had any comment, Lil' Kim shook her head.
The shootout occurred outside WQHT, a.k.a. Hot 97, when Lil' Kim's entourage crossed paths with a rival rap group, Capone-N-Noreaga (search). One man was injured as more than two dozen rounds were fired on the sidewalk.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathy Seibel told jurors that the 4-foot-11 rapper, referred to throughout the trial by her real name, Kimberly Jones, had repeatedly lied to them, just as she did to the grand jury.
"The testimony was preposterous. It was insulting. It was insulting to your intelligence. It was insulting to the judicial process," Seibel told jurors.
Seibel belittled the defense that the sunglasses-wearing Lil' Kim didn't notice two people she knew at the scene of the shootout.
"You would have to believe they were magic sunglasses that only block out your friends who were shooting people," Seibel said.
Defense lawyer Mel Sachs argued that Lil' Kim had no reason to protect Butler and Jackson because she had already eliminated them from her life.
Lil' Kim testified that after the shooting she had a falling out with Butler, Banger and Cease because they were freeloading at her New Jersey town house. She said she decided to cut off Butler completely after he caused a ruckus outside a video shoot with Phil Collins.
"I was just fed up," she said. "They were taking advantage of me."
The rapper also testified at length about her modest background and mercurial career, which began with an impromptu audition for B.I.G. on the street in their Brooklyn neighborhood.
Lil' Kim won a Grammy Award for her part in the hit remake of "Lady Marmalade" in 2001.
The shooting took place outside the same station where the posses of 50 Cent and The Game traded bullets last week. No arrests have been made in that shooting, which left one of Game's henchmen wounded in the leg.