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CAN'T KNOCK THE HUSTLE

"I have accepted responsibility for my actions..."

Hiphop figurehead JAY-Z has broken his silence over last week's court appearance that saw him plead guilty to stabbing record producer LANCE RIVERA in a nightclub fight almost two years ago.

In a brief statement, Jay-Z said: "By pleading guilty to a charge of misdemeanor assault, I have accepted responsibility for my actions as well as the actions of others who were involved in a dispute with Lance Rivera at the Kit Kat Club in December of 1999."


He added: "I am very pleased that this unfortunate episode is now over and equally pleased that an unrelated weapon possession charge that I should never have been arrested for has now been dismissed by the district attorney."

The star will receive a three-year probation sentence for the crime during a hearing on December 6. It emerged last week, following the hearing, that he paid Rivera $600,000 and Rivera then stopped cooperating with prosecution lawyers. Had a criminal trial started and Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, been found guilty, he would have been on a second-degree felony charge and would have faced a 15-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors said: "The victim... told [prosecutors] that money he had received from Carter pursuant to the threatened lawsuit adequately compensated him for the stabbing."

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