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JAY-Z SPARED JAIL TERM

Grammy-winning rapper Jay-Z was sentenced to three years of probation Wednesday after pleading guilty to charges of stabbing a record producer during a fight in a nightclub.

The millionaire rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, admitting he stabbed Lance "Un" Rivera on Dec. 1, 1999, at a party for rapper Q-Tip at Manhattan's Kit Kat Klub.

Jay-Z, 31, accused Rivera of making and selling counterfeit copies of one of his recordings. The rapper pulled a 5-inch knife and stabbed Rivera at least twice, according to a police account of the attack.

"I stabbed Lance Rivera," Jay-Z mumbled as he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault before Justice Micki Scherer in Manhattan's State Supreme Court. The judge will sentence him Dec. 6 to three years of probation.

Rivera, 35, prepared a lawsuit against Jay-Z but didn't file it after they settled out of court for between $500,000 and $1 million. The victim later told prosecutors he was not interested in pursuing the case.

On Tuesday, a weapons charge against Jay-Z was dismissed after his chauffeur admitted ownership of a gun found in a sport utility vehicle in which the rapper was riding on April 13.

The chauffeur, Hamza Hewitt, 29, of Teaneck, N.J., pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in the third-degree and was sentenced to a year in jail.

Jay-Z was born in Brooklyn and has said that he once hustled drugs for a living. Now a resident of Englewood, N.J., his records are anthems of street life, of the struggles to survive in the environment where he grew up.

Jay-Z's "Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life" won best rap album at the Grammy Awards in 1999. His latest song, "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," has been in the top 10 of the Billboard singles chart for weeks.

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