September 16, 2011 at 12:17 PM CDT - Updated June 25 at 10:44 AM
By GREG BLUESTEIN Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) - The Grammy-winning artist T.I. was back at a halfway house in Atlanta on Thursday after weeks of fighting with federal prison officials who were upset he traveled with a TV producer and a manager when he was released from an Arkansas prison, his attorney said.
T.I. was initially released from the Arkansas prison and sent to the halfway house on Aug. 31, a month before his sentence for probation violation was up. But a day later he was back in federal custody after corrections authorities accused him of violating prison rules by discussing business deals with the two during his 375-mile journey to Atlanta.
Attorney Steve Sadow argued that the rapper didn't break any rules because a VH1 reality show and book deal that was announced within hours of his release had actually been finalized months earlier.
Sadow said Thursday that his client didn't intend to violate any guidelines and that he was pleased with the outcome. The Bureau of Prisons did not comment on the move.
T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, initially served about seven months in prison in 2009 after he was arrested for trying to buy unregistered guns and silencers from undercover federal agents. He was on probation after he was released and ordered not to commit another crime or to illegally possess any controlled substances. He then was arrested in Los Angeles in September 2010 after authorities said he was found with four ecstasy pills.
He was sentenced to 11 months in prison for that violation and had been set for release at the end of September, but he was allowed to transfer to an Atlanta halfway house about a month early. He made the trip on a luxury bus with his wife, Tameka "Tiny" Cottle Harris, manager Brian Sher and producer Cris Abrego, according to documents.
Sher and Abrego said in letters sent to Bureau of Prisons officials that they visited with T.I. a few times before his release and no business was conducted during the trip. T.I.'s business attorney, Jonathan Leonard, said in another letter that the TV deal was negotiated and signed in late July and processed through his office. The book deal with HarperCollins Publishers was sealed in June 2011, he said.
T.I. will now stay at the Atlanta halfway house through Sept. 29, when his prison term ends, said Sadow. After that, T.I. will be a free man, although he'll be on federal probation for another year.