After entering a plea of not guilty, T.I. will remain in jail at least until October 26 after a judge declined to rule on a bond request from the rapper's defense team on Friday (October 19).
Despite a pledge to put up $2.2 million in bond, including around $1.5 million in equity on the rapper's two homes and separate $100,000 bonds backed by five of the top executives at Atlantic Records and Warner Bros. Records, Magistrate Alan Baverman said he would need more time to consider the bond request in the case, according to CNN. T.I. (real name: Clifford Harris) is charged with trying to illegally purchase machine guns and silencers.
T.I.'s lawyers had also proposed that the rapper would stay in his Atlanta-area home with 24-hour-a-day monitoring, and that he would allow an independent monitor to live in the home and search anyone coming or going from the house, with monitoring expenses paid by the rapper. The Associated Press reported that T.I. had also agreed to surrender his passport and right to drive, and to submit to random searches of the home and random drug screening.
"The conditions are so severe, so stringent ... he will effectively be in a private jail in his house," T.I.'s lawyer Ed Garland told the court, according to Reuters.
Baverman was expected to rule on the bond request Friday, but in a scene that a CNN reporter said was the most unusual she has witnessed in decades of covering bond cases, the magistrate said he would need additional time to consider the bond request, surprising the courtroom by requesting that T.I. come up with the full $2.2 million bond in cash. (Typically a person seeking bond only has to put up 10 percent of the requested amount.) Also, according to the AP, Baverman said he will reserve his ruling until a home monitor can be approved by the court, pretrial services officials and prosecutors.
As a testament to the judge's concerns in the case, CNN reported that in addition to the full cash bond amount and the pledge of the rapper's two houses — the equity of which is worth $1.5 million — Baverman also asked T.I.'s mother to pledge any property she owns. However, the rapper's defense team said she does not own any property.
In addition to noting the gallery of high-powered music executives pledging their own money to secure the rapper's bond, CNN reported that Baverman had kind words for T.I.'s past charitable work and expressed concern that the rapper had allegedly tried to buy such high-powered weapons.
"The characteristics of Mr. Harris in large part are noteworthy and commendable," Baverman said, in response to being presented with evidence of the rapper's community-outreach efforts and talks he gave to schoolchildren, according to Reuters. But he added, "I am really, really concerned about that sort of dichotomy — somebody who has so many gifts and risks it all by showing up at a gun deal."
As Baverman spoke, T.I. sat in the courtroom with a calm expression on his face and stared at the magistrate, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Baverman postponed his ruling until next week, saying he believed the prosecution had not convinced him that no possible conditions could be placed on T.I., to assure he would not be a flight risk or danger to others. Between now and October 26, the judge said he would consider the conditions set for by the defense.
During Friday's hearing, it was also revealed that T.I. had up to a half-pound of marijuana in his vehicle at the time of his arrest, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Police also discovered three handguns inside his car, according to the newspaper. Baverman reportedly expressed distress after learning T.I. had told a pretrial services officer during a recent interview that he hadn't smoked marijuana in more than a year. When he was booked last weekend, T.I. allegedly told federal agents he had recently smoked marijuana, prior to the BET Awards.
On Monday, the rapper — who will be missing his scheduled appearance at the premiere of the film "American Gangster," in which he appears, on Friday night — was ordered held without bond until Friday's hearing. A number of the rapper's projects remain in limbo pending the outcome of the trial. Federal prosecutors had requested that the 27-year-old rapper be held without bond until his trial, which could be months away, but Baverman declined that request.
Prosecutors allege that T.I., 27, asked his bodyguard to buy three machine guns and two silencers on his behalf, an act that is illegal because, as a convicted felon, T.I. is not allowed to possess or purchase firearms. His bodyguard, whose name has not been released, was arrested on October 10 after he attempted to make the purchases without legally registering the sale, using money that, according to an affidavit, was taken out of one of the rapper's bank accounts on his orders. On Wednesday, T.I. was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of illegally possessing unregistered machine guns and silencers, unlawfully possessing machine guns and being a convicted felon in possession of firearms.
According to the Journal-Constitution, after T.I. entered his plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Francey Hakes explained that the case was part of "an ongoing investigation" and indicated that more changes could be on the way. She also estimated that T.I.'s trial would last no more than a week.
If convicted, T.I. will almost certainly face prison time, which could run up to 10 years.
[This story was originally published on 10.19.07 at 12:41 p.m. ET.]