NEW YORK (AP) _ Top-selling rappers Ja Rule and Lil Wayne were arraigned on felony gun charges Monday following their separate arrests after a hip-hop concert at which both had performed.
A judge set high bails and bonds for the rappers and two other men, but the defendants were expected to be freed immediately, their bonds secured by Ja Rule's $3.5 million house in New Jersey, bail bondsman Ira Judelson said.
Ja Rule, of Saddle Brook, N.J., and two men with him were stopped for speeding around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, and a police computer check of their 2004 Maybach luxury car revealed it had no insurance and a suspended registration, prosecutors said.
When police stopped the car, which costs about $250,000 to $400,000, they ``detected a strong odor of marijuana,'' prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court. A loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun was recovered from the rear driver's-side door, she said.
Lil Wayne, who is from New Orleans but lives in Miami, was arrested around 11:30 p.m. while dressing in a tour bus near the Beacon Theater, where the rappers had performed, Illuzzi-Orbon said. Approaching police officers smelled marijuana, and as they got closer Lil Wayne, 24, tossed aside a bag that contained a loaded .40-caliber handgun, she said.
Police believed that another person, so far uncharged, had stuffed 7 pounds of marijuana down the bus' toilet as officers approached, prosecutors said.
All the defendants were charged with second-degree illegal gun possession, which is punishable by up to four years in prison upon conviction.
Attorney Stacey Richman, who represented all four defendants, noted that despite prosecutors' claim that police detected the odor of marijuana in both arrests, nobody was charged with possession of it.
The judge set bond at $150,000 for Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, and at $70,000 for Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter. He set bond at $20,000 for Mohamed Gamal, Ja Rule's driver and limo service owner, and at $150,000 for Dennis Cherry, Ja Rule's road manager.
Ja Rule, 31, rose to fame in the mid-1990s after appearing on a hit song with Jay-Z and later went on to record platinum-selling solo albums.
Lil Wayne's albums include ``Tha Block Is Hot,'' ``Lights Out,'' ``Tha Carter'' and ``Tha Carter II.''