Rapper Lil Wayne to face NY gun charges after tour

Rapper Lil Wayne accepts a Grammy for the Best Rap Album for "Tha Carter III" at the 51st annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 8, 2009. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. rapper Lil Wayne, fresh from winning best rap album at the 2009 Grammy Awards, will face criminal gun possession charges at a trial scheduled to begin April 20, a New York judge said on Tuesday.

Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, faces one count of criminal weapons possession and one charge of criminal possession of a loaded weapon. Prosecutors allege a gun was found in his tour bus in July 2007.

Rapper Ja Rule was arrested separately on similar charges following a hip hop concert in New York where both men performed. Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, pleaded innocent and a trial date has not yet been set.

Carter appeared in court wearing a black leather jacket, jeans, and black-rimmed glasses, blowing a kiss to fans who greeted him outside the courtroom.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Charles Solomon ordered jury selection as soon as the rapper completes his current concert commitments. Carter is on tour until April 12, his lawyer said.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, a spokeswoman at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said.

Carter’s album, “Tha Carter III,” was the biggest-selling U.S. release of 2008 and won him best rap albums and three other prizes at the 2009 Grammy Awards.

Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Eric Walsh