ATLANTA | A federal judge revoked rapper T.I.’s probation Friday and ordered him back to prison for 11 months, according to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
The Atlanta native, whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., was in federal court here following his arrest last month in Los Angeles on suspicion of drug possession. He was on probation after serving 10 months behind bars on federal weapons charges.
During the hearing, T.I. begged U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. not to send him back to prison, saying he needed to get help for drug addiction. He told the judge he “screwed up” and pleaded for mercy.
“I want drugs out of my life. If I can get the treatment and counseling I need ... I can beat this,” T.I. told the judge, according to U.S. attorney spokesman Patrick Crosby. “I need help. For me, my mother, my kids, I need the court to give me mercy.”
The Associated Press was relying on information from the spokesman because the judge closed the courtroom after it was filled and several media outlets, including AP, were not allowed in.
The Grammy Award-winning artist walked out of court with family and friends. Crosby said he will be allowed to voluntarily surrender.
As a condition of T.I.’s release earlier this year, he was ordered not to commit another federal, state or local crime while on supervised release, or to illegally possess a controlled substance. He was also told to take at least three drug tests after his release and to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Before heading to prison, T.I. spent dozens of hours of community service talking with inner-city children and juvenile offenders about the dangers of drugs and guns.
“While he was telling kids to obey the law, he was breaking it,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates told the judge Friday, according to Crosby. “There has to be a significant consequence for undermining the (plea) agreement.”
Yates urged the judge to consider a sentence of two years in prison. She said T.I. submitted diluted urine samples and told his probation officer he had used ecstasy at least three times since leaving prison.
“He was supposed to be living what he was preaching,” she said, according to Crosby.
During the hearing, T.I’s attorney told the judge that his office had reviewed nearly 250 cases with similar charges and that none of the people were sent back to jail for violating probation, Crosby said.