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Rapper Ja Rule sentenced to two years in prison

Ja Rule arrives at the Manhattan Supreme Court in New york
Ja Rule arrives at the Manhattan Supreme Court in New york

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hip-hop artist Ja Rule was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday, six months after he pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon.

The 35-year-old rapper and actor, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, did not speak during the sentencing held at New York State Supreme Court. He was set to report to prison later on Wednesday.

The charge stemmed from a July 2007 incident, when police pulled Atkins over after a New York concert and found a semi-automatic handgun hidden in his car, according to authorities.

Ninety minutes before his sentencing, Atkins sent a final message to his 50,000 Twitter followers: "Out on my patio having my last free moment I love all my fans Pain is love!!!" He signed autographs on his way into the courthouse.

After the sentencing, Atkins, who wore white sneakers and matching gray sweatpants and a sweatshirt, hugged his attorney and waved to his wife.

He will likely serve between 18 and 20 months with good behavior, his lawyer Stacey Richman said.

Fellow rapper Lil Wayne was arrested separately after the same concert at New York's Beacon Theater after police discovered him smoking marijuana near a tour bus.

Atkins also faces possible federal prison time for failing to pay taxes from 2004 to 2008. He pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to file taxes in a New Jersey federal court in March.

A sentencing date has not been set on that case.

Atkins received a 2002 Grammy nomination for his album, "Pain is Love," and has appeared in several films, including "The Fast and the Furious."

His latest studio effort, "Pain is Love 2," is scheduled to be released later this summer, and his manager, Ron Robinson, said he was putting the finishing touches on the album two nights ago.

He spent his last day of freedom Tuesday seeing the movie "X-Men: First Class" with his family, according to his Twitter feed.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax, editing by Christine Kearney)

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