Rappers Ja Rule, Lil Wayne get bail on weapons charges

Top-selling rappers Ja Rule and Lil Wayne were arraigned on felony gun charges Monday in New York following their separate arrests after a hip-hop concert at which they had performed.

Top-selling rappers Ja Rule and Lil Wayne were arraigned on felony gun charges Monday in New York following separate arrests after a hip-hop concert at whichthey had performed.

Bail for Ja Rule, whose realname is Jeffrey Atkins, was set at $150,000 US and bail for Lil Wayne, real name Dwayne Carter, was set at $70,000 US.

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. local time 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 odour of marijuana," prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the court.

A loaded .40-calibre 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 Theatre, 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, she said.

Police said they found a bag with a loaded .40-calibre handgun andabout 1.4 kilos of marijuana stuffed into the bus toilet.

All the defendants were charged with second-degree illegal gun possession.

Attorney Stacey Richman, who represented all four defendants, noted that nobody was charged with possession of marijuana.

The judge 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.