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Rapper starts paying bill for prison out of royalties

Saturday, April 27, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Some prison inmates in Missouri must use investments and insurance policies to offset the costs of their incarceration. But for a former bandmate of St. Louis rapper Nelly, hey, it must be the money.

Rapper City Spud on Friday paid the first $25,000 installment of the $100,000 he owes the state for his imprisonment, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said.

City Spud -- his real name is Lavell Webb -- was a member of Nelly's group, the St. Lunatics. He also produced several songs on Nelly's Grammy-nominated 2001 album, "Country Grammar," which included the hit songs, "Ride Wit Me," known for its catch phrase, "Hey, must be the money!"

Webb is serving a 10-year sentence for a robbery in St. Louis County that left another man seriously wounded. He pleaded guilty in 1999.

The rapper paid the $25,000 with money from his royalties with the St. Lunatics. He will pay the rest in annual installments of about $11,000, through 2008.

"We've recovered money from inmates that has come from stocks, life insurance policies and even lottery winnings, but assets from music royalties may be a first," Nixon said.

Nixon used the state's Inmate Incarceration Reimbursement Act to recover the money. The 1988 law entitles Missouri to recover costs from inmates after obligations to spouse or children are met.

Last year, Nixon collected a record $345,306 from inmates.

In February, Gov. Bob Holden and members of the Missouri House honored Nelly and the St. Lunatics for promising to play basketball with high schools that showed increased participation in standardized tests. But some lawmakers questioned whether the state should praise a group that sings about illegal drug use and sexual promiscuity.

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