US rapper Coolio avoids jail in firearms case


Los Angeles (AFP)

US rapper Coolio was given community service on Wednesday after admitting carrying a handgun in a backpack at Los Angeles International Airport.

The weapon was discovered in the bag as a member of the 53-year-old's entourage went through a security screening checkpoint on September 17, Los Angeles Superior Court heard at a previous hearing.

The man initially claimed to be the owner but an inspection revealed items in the bag belonging to Coolio, who had already boarded a plane.

The rapper, best known for the chart-topping 1995 song "Gangsta's Paradise," was removed from the aircraft and arrested after admitting the bag was his.

Charged under his real name Artis Leon Ivey, the rapper pleaded "no contest" to possession of a firearm by a felon with two prior convictions, and was handed 45 hours of community service and put on probation for three years.

"A mistake was made, it was a misunderstanding. And I do not condone the use of firearms, legal or illegal," the rapper told reporters after the hearing.

Coolio, who faced up to three years in prison if convicted at trial, added that he had been "very worried" about the possible outcome of the case.

The rapper already has a 2001 conviction for carrying a concealed weapon in a vehicle and another in 2009 for possession of cocaine base.

Coolio was told he can have the felony count reduced to a misdemeanor after a year, but if found in possession of even one bullet, he would find himself back in front of a judge.

Asked by reporters if he would be able to complete his probation, he said: "Absolutely. I mean, I'm not involved in crime, I'm not into anything illegal. It should be easy."