Ja Rule pleads guilty to tax evasion
Newark - Rapper and actor Ja Rule admitted on Tuesday that he failed to pay taxes on more than $3m in income, and he faces up to three years in prison.
The platinum-selling rapper, whose given name is Jeffrey Atkins, earned the money between 2004 and 2006 while he lived in an upscale community in northern New Jersey.
If the plea conditions are met, the government will dismiss two counts against him for unpaid taxes on about $1m he earned in 2007 and 2008.
Atkins is scheduled to be sentenced June 13 on the three tax evasion charges. He faces up to one year in prison and $100 000 in fines on each count.
Five days before that, he is scheduled to report to prison in New York to serve a two-year sentence after pleading guilty in December to attempted criminal possession of a weapon.
Atkins' attorney, Stacy Richman, is expected to file to have the tax evasion sentence served concurrently with the weapons sentence.
Atkins appeared in US District Court in Newark and answered a series of questions from US Magistrate Patty Shwartz and Assistant US Attorney Joseph Mack about his income from 2004 to 2008, which reached $1.59m in 2005 and gradually fell to $490 000 in 2008.
The government estimated the unpaid taxes from those years totalled more than $1.1m.
According to a court filing by the US Attorney's office, Atkins earned the money from music royalties paid to ASJA Inc and live performance-related income paid to Rule Tours Inc. Atkins was the sole shareholder of both companies, the government alleged.
Atkins didn't comment outside the courtroom. Asked how he felt about the charges as he stepped into a waiting car he said, "I feel great."
Richman noted that her client surrendered voluntarily and will pay the delinquent taxes.
"He's been working on addressing these issues for some time, and he's taking full responsibility," she said.
The weapons charge stems from a traffic stop after a July 2007 concert at New York's Beacon Theatre. Police say they found a loaded gun in a rear door of his luxury sports car.
The rapper was nominated for a 2002 best rap album Grammy Award for Pain is Love. His movie credits include 2001's The Fast and the Furious and 2003's Scary Movie 3.