NEW YORK – Grammy-award winning rapper Lil' Kim (search) was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in prison and fined $50,000 for lying to a federal grand jury to protect friends involved in a 2001 shootout outside a Manhattan radio station.
It was far less than the 20-year maximum she could have faced and the nearly three-year sentence prosecutors had sought.
The judge said he had considered the public perception of sending a young, African-American entertainer to prison for far longer than Martha Stewart (search), who spent five months in prison and remains under house arrest.
While many rappers have served time in prison, Lil' Kim is the first big-name female artist to do so.
Lil' Kim, whose real name is Kimberly Jones, could have faced up to 20 years — five years each on three counts of perjury and one count of conspiracy — at her sentencing before U.S. District Judge Gerard Lynch. She was convicted in March.
Before the sentence was handed down, Lil' Kim spoke briefly, her voice breaking. She admitted to lying to the grand jury and at her trial.
"At the time I thought it was the right thing to do but I now know it was wrong," she said.
She also asked the judge to consider her entire career instead of just this one event.
"I have worked hard my entire life for everything I have, everything I have accomplished," Lil' Kim said. "I ask you to consider my entire life's work and not just the days in the grand jury and on the witness stand in the courtroom. I'm a God-fearing, good person."
The rapper has to report to prison by Sept. 19. Her attorneys are hoping she will be sent to the federal facility in Danbury, Conn., so that she can be closer to her mother. Lil' Kim didn't say anything as she left the courthouse.
The artist, who turns 30 next week, was the sidekick and mistress of the late Notorious B.I.G. (search) As a solo artist, she has become known for her revealing outfits and raunchy lyrics.
The rapper told the grand jury she did not notice two of her close friends at the scene of the shootout — her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif Jackson, known as "Gutta." Both have pleaded guilty to gun charges.
Jurors at Lil' Kim's trial saw radio station security photos that depicted Butler opening a door for the rap star, and two witnesses who once made records with Lil' Kim said they saw her at the station with Butler and Jackson.
Lil' Kim's group confronted the others about a Capone-N-Noreaga song, "Bang, Bang," that contained an insult to Lil' Kim from rival Foxy Brown (search). One man was hurt in the shootout that followed.
At trial, Lil' Kim testified that she had a falling out after the shooting with Butler and with Antoine "Banger" Spain and James "Lil' Cease" Lloyd, the two witnesses who said they saw her with Butler and Jackson.
She said they were freeloading at her New Jersey townhouse.
"I was just fed up," she told jurors. "They were taking advantage of me."
Lil' Kim won a Grammy in 2001 for her part in the hit remake of "Lady Marmalade."
Her superstar career began with an impromptu performance for Notorious B.I.G. on the street in their Brooklyn neighborhood. She became "Queen Bee," the only girl in his otherwise all-male clique.
Her 1996 debut album, "Hard Core," was laced with sexually explicit lyrics and became a big hit, thanks to songs like "Crush On You" and others with unmentionable titles.
In the years that followed, plastic surgery helped transform her into a glam fashionista.
In other legal problems, Lil' Kim was sued earlier this year by two men who say she failed to pay them for songwriting and performing services for an album released in 2003.
The album, "La Bella Mafia," sold more than 1 million copies.