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Hip-hop star Lil' Kim convicted of lying about shooting outside radio station

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Grammy-winning hip-hop star Lil' Kim could face years in prison when she is sentenced in June for lying about a shootout outside a radio station.

Her convictions Thursday on three counts of perjury and one of conspiracy each carry terms of up to five years in prison, but as a first-time offender she was expected to receive far less than 20 years. Any term would make her the first major female rapper to do time.

The 29-year-old performer, known for her raunchy raps and revealing outfits, was acquitted of obstruction of justice.

She and her assistant, who also was convicted, shook their heads as the verdicts were delivered, and supporters broke out in sobs.

Lil' Kim declined to comment outside court, but in a statement issued later, she said she was ``disappointed'' by the verdict.

``Throughout my life, I have always lived with adversity and will continue to have faith and do good for my family, friends and fans,'' she said.

Both women remained free on bond and will be sentenced June 24.

The former sidekick and girlfriend of the late Notorious B.I.G. had testified that she didn't notice two close friends at the scene of the 2001 gun battle _ her manager, Damion Butler, and Suif ``Gutta'' Jackson. Both men have since pleaded guilty to gun charges.

The shootout occurred outside WQHT, known as Hot 97, when Lil' Kim's entourage crossed paths with a rival rap group, Capone-N-Noreaga. Kim's entourage confronted them about the song ``Bang, Bang'' from a Capone-N-Noreaga album, which contained a scathing insult to Kim from her longtime rival, Foxy Brown. A shootout erupted, leaving one man injured and more than two dozen rounds fired.

Hot 97 is the same station where the posses of 50 Cent and The Game traded bullets last month. No arrests have been made in that shooting, which left one of Game's henchmen wounded in the leg.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Cathy Seibel told jurors that the 4-foot-11 Lil' Kim, born Kimberly Jones, had repeatedly lied to them, just as she did to the grand jury. The prosecutor belittled the defense claim that the sunglasses-wearing Lil' Kim didn't notice her two close friends at the scene of the crime.

``You would have to believe they were magic sunglasses that only block out your friends who were shooting people,'' Seibel told the jury.

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.

``I was just fed up,'' she said on the stand. ``They were taking advantage of me.''

Lil' Kim's assistant, Monique Dopwell, was convicted of perjury and conspiracy. She faces up to 15 years in prison.

The rapper also testified at length about her modest background and mercurial career, which began with an impromptu performance for B.I.G. on the street in their Brooklyn neighborhood.

As B.I.G. became a superstar, Lil' Kim became ``Queen Bee,'' the oversexed gangsta girl in his otherwise all-male clique. Her first album, 1996's ``Hard Core,'' lived up to its title with its sexually explicit lyrics _ and became a big hit, thanks to songs like ``Crush On You'' and others with unmentionable titles.

Lil' Kim developed into one of the few female rappers with a commercially viable career. As plastic surgery slowly transformed her from cute around-the-way girl to glam, top-heavy pinup, she morphed into a sexy fashionista who, for some, exemplified female empowerment.

Her bigger-than-rap status was cemented in 1999 when, while presenting an MTV award wearing a pasty over one exposed breast, co-presenter Diana Ross jiggled Kim's bare flesh.

She won a Grammy in 2001 for her part in the hit remake of ``Lady Marmalade.'' Now she's probably headed to prison, adding a chapter to a remarkable life that already has produced an accredited Syracuse University course titled ``The Life and Times of Lil' Kim.''
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