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Ja Rule pleads guilty to $3M tax evasion in NJ

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    Rapper Ja Rule, left, is seen inside a vehicle outside Martin Luther King, Jr. Courthouse after pleading guilty to federal tax evasion charges, Tuesday, March 22, 2011, in Newark, N.J. Ja Rule admitted he failed to pay taxes on more than $3 million earned between 2004 and 2006. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

NEWARK, N.J. >> Rapper and actor Ja Rule admitted Tuesday that he failed to pay taxes on more than $3 million 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 Saddle River, 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 $1 million 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 U.S. District Court in Newark dressed in a brown leather jacket, pullover and blue jeans. He answered a series of questions from U.S. Magistrate Patty Shwartz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Mack about his income from 2004 to 2008, which reached $1.59 million in 2005 and gradually fell to $490,000 in 2008.

The government estimated the unpaid taxes from those years totaled more than $1.1 million.

According to a court filing by the U.S. 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 Theater. 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."


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