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Judge puts off ruling on bail for rapper T.I.

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Judge says he needs to hear more before making decision about bail
  • Rapper T.I. in court Friday; lawyers trying to work out arrangements before trial
  • Attorney proposes $2.2 million bond, home confinement
  • Courtroom support included several record company executives
  • Next Article in Entertainment »
By Rusty Dornin
CNN
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A federal judge says he hasn't heard enough and won't rule until next week on whether rapper T.I. can be released on a $2 million cash bail.

T.I.

T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, was arrested Saturday on weapons charges.

Wearing a black suit, white shirt and no tie, the rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris, entered the Atlanta, Georgia, courtroom with his feet shackled. He nodded to record executives and family in the front row.

Harris pleaded not guilty to gun charges, but then the courtroom drama began when his attorneys started outlining to U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Baverman what they proposed for his bail conditions.

When defense attorney Ed Garland asked Harris' family to stand in support of the rapper, 35 people -- nearly three-quarters of the courtroom -- stood up.

Garland then asked six record executives, including Lylor Cohen, the CEO and chairman of Warner Music, and Kevin Liles, the CEO and president of Atlantic Records, to stand as well. Video Watch CNN's Rusty Dornin describe the "most amazing" bond hearing she has witnessed »

Four of the record executives were willing to sign $100,000 bonds for Harris. Atlantic Records was willing, according to defense attorneys, to post $1 million on a signature bond.

Harris' attorneys offered having bail set at $2.2 million, with Harris pledging the equity in both his houses, valued at $1.5 million. They also sought 24-hour monitoring with drug exams during the bail period. Still, Baverman said he was not satisfied yet with the conditions.

The judge seemed to vacillate between complimenting Harris and appearing perplexed over his concerns regarding the charges.

"On the whole, Mr. Harris has used his fame and fortune for good," Baverman said, but he also said he was disturbed by the rapper's criminal history and the fact that machine guns with silencers were involved in the charges.

Prosecutors cited a series of crimes, including cocaine possession, dating back to 1997.

Government attorneys also say Harris has used at least three different false identities when dealing with law enforcement and in the past has failed to appear for criminal court proceedings.

The judge said Harris was "an exceptionally gifted and talented musician" who "has reached out to underprivileged communities with great generosity. At the same time, on the same day that's probably the most important in his career, he shows up armed to buy machine guns and silencers.

"So I am very concerned about that dichotomy, somebody who has so many gifts and does so well and then risks it all by showing up to a gun dealer."

Harris, 27, was arrested in a parking lot in Atlanta during a sting operation only hours before the BET Hip-Hop Awards, where he won CD of the Year. His bodyguard-turned-informant delivered three machine guns and two silencers to the rapper, according to a Justice Department statement.

Authorities said Harris provided the bodyguard $12,000 to buy the weapons, which Harris is not allowed to own because he is a convicted felon.

Baverman said he will decide whether to grant bail after he has closely examined the monitoring company offered by the defense.

The judge told the packed courtroom he wanted to "consider the entire package" and wants to make sure Harris is neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.

Harris was alert and nodded several times to the judge, and also looked back to nod at family members behind him.

One of his attorneys, Steve Sadow, told reporters after the hearing they had no quarrel with the judge's deliberations and their client was not upset at not gaining his release.

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Sadow added, "I think our hurdle in defending this case is the nature of the way it's been presented. His [Harris'] criminal history has posed a problem as the court has recognized, but he also has a lot of good things that he's done, which the judge recognized as well."

The judge will consider whether to grant bail for Harris on Friday, October 26. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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