Lil Wayne pleaded guilty to attempted possession of a weapon in the second degree this morning in a New York courtroom; the plea bargain carries a sentence of up to a year in prison. Wayne had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were filed after the NYPD found a .40 caliber handgun on Wayne's tour bus in July 2007. But after the court ruled that DNA evidence found on the gun would be admissible — evidence obtained by techniques Wayne's lawyer Stacey Richman has called problematic — Wayne opted to take the plea bargain, AllHipHop reports. If Wayne was found guilty following the trial, which was set for January 2010, the charges carried a three-and-a-half year sentence.
Lil Wayne and his representatives didn't release any statements, and when the Grammy winner left court this morning he said only "What's up?" to waiting reporters. According to TMZ, cops searched Wayne's tour bus after they detected the aroma of marijuana following his show at the Beacon Theatre. When police approached the bus, Wayne allegedly tossed a Louis Vuitton bag with the gun inside. It's expected that Wayne will serve a sentence of eight months to a year, as the New York judicial system is usually tough on firearm violators, regardless of fame. Case in point: Former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was sentenced to two years in September 2009 for possessing a gun at a nightclub.
As Rolling Stone previously reported, Wayne is also facing a trial for felony drug possession and weapons charges in Arizona as the result of another tour bus search in 2008. In that case, Wayne's bus was reportedly holding 105 grams of marijuana, 29 grams of cocaine, 41 grams of ecstasy, drug paraphernalia and a handgun.
Lil Wayne is now the second major rapper in the span of a year to be found guilty of weapons charges. T.I. is currently serving time after being sentenced to a year and a day in prison in March 2009 after pleading guilty to weapons charges. Wayne will officially be sentenced in February; it's unclear whether the guilty plea will effect the planned December 15th release of the rapper's oft-delayed Rebirth.
UPDATE: Cash Money's Ronald "Slim" Williams and Bryan "Baby" Williams released the following statement on October 23rd:
"The Cash Money family will continue to support our artist and friend Lil Wayne in his current court case. We have worked with Wayne since he was a teenager, and have seen him grow into one of the world's most successful hip-hop artists, with a work ethic that is second to none. Wayne has our love and commitment during this difficult time. We always have and always will stand behind him."