Rapper Coolio pleads guilty to cocaine possession

Singer Coolio performs before a panel discussion on his new Oxygen Network reality series "Coolio's Rules" at the NBC Universal summer 2008 press tour in Beverly Hills, California July 20, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rap star Coolio pleaded guilty on Friday to possession of cocaine and will avoid jail by entering an 18-month drug rehabilitation program, a spokeswoman for prosecutors said.

Coolio, who had hits in the mid-1990s with “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage,” faced three years in prison if convicted of all the charges against him, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.

The charges stem from Coolio’s March 6 arrest at Los Angeles International Airport, where authorities searched his luggage and found cocaine.

Coolio resisted arrest, but in exchange for his guilty plea authorities said they dropped a charge of battery against him, as well as a charge of possession of a smoking device.

Coolio’s real name is Artis Ivey. In recent years his recording career took a nose dive. He has acted on a number television shows, and earlier this year he starred in UK program “Celebrity Big Brother.”

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte