Ja Rule took a step toward freedom Thursday, finishing up the first of two… (Peter Kramer / Associated…)
Rapper Ja Rule passed a big milestone in his legal struggles Thursday morning when he was released from a prison in upstate New York, where he's been incarcerated since June 2011 on a gun charge.
But there's a twist: Along with the two-year sentence on the state gun charge, the 36-year-old has been working though a 28-month federal sentence for tax evasion. The sentences were running concurrently, which leaves him with time still to serve in the federal case — so he's out, but he's not yet free.
Ja Rule, real name Jeffrey Atkins, went from the Mid-State Correctional Facility to the Oneida County Jail into central New York, where he was awaiting word from the Federal Bureau of Prisons about where he'll serve time in the tax case.
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His lawyer said the rapper may have less than six months left to serve, and could be eligible to pass that time in a halfway house. He was let go at the earliest possible release date.
"There's a lot of anticipation knowing that he's so close to the end of it ... and frustration," attorney Stacey Richman told MTV News. "He knew he wasn't getting out today, but his spirits have been extraordinary throughout. A lot of people want to work with him."
In December 2010, Ja Rule pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon after police in 2007 found an unlicensed, loaded, semiautomatic weapon in his Maybach during a traffic stop.
In March 2011, Rule pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to file a tax return, admitting that he'd failed to pay income tax on more than $3 million earned from 2004 through 2006, with prosecutors dropping charges related to earnings in 2007 and 2008. At the time, he agreed to pay $1.1 million in back taxes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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