Rapper DMX pleads guilty to $1.7m tax evasion
Prosecutors went after DMX after he failed to pay taxes between 2010 and 2015, despite earning more than $2.3 million over that period
Hip-hop recording artist Earl Simmons, aka DMX walks with two friends from the U.S. District Court after being arraigned, July 14, 2017, in New York City. Simmons has plead guilty to engaging in a multi-year scheme to conceal millions of dollars of income from the IRS and to avoid paying $1.7 million of tax liabilities. Photo: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images embed
MANHATTAN (CN) – The rapper DMX pleaded guilty Thursday to tax evasion, admitting that he concealed millions made from music royalties and television appearances.
The 46-year-old Yonkers native arrived at his plea hearing in Lower Manhattan Thursday afternoon 20 minutes late. He has been living under house arrest in Westchester since the summer when a federal judge found that the rapper’s drug use and travel had violated bail terms.
Prosecutors indicted DMX in July on 14 counts but the rapper pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff to a single count. It carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Referring to the rapper by his birth name, Earl Simmons, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim invoked one of DMX’s top songs from 2006.
“Today, Simmons made a choice between ‘Right or Wrong,’ and did the right thing, admitting his guilt, and agreeing to pay his tax liabilities,” Kim said in a statement.
Prosecutors went after DMX after he failed to pay taxes between 2010 and 2015, despite earning more than $2.3 million over that period.
To avoid government attention, DMX tried to maintain a cash lifestyle. To avoid using a bank account, DMX had his associates use their accounts to handle various expenses, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said DMX had some of the money he earned in music royalties — amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars — deposited into the accounts of his managers.
When asked by Judge Rakoff about where the royalties money went, the gruff-voiced DMX replied that the entire amount went to an ex-wife and another woman as child support.
DMX also earned $125,000 for participating in the reality-television show “Celebrity Couples Therapy” in 2011 and 2012, the government alleged.
Prosectors say DMX refused to tape the remainder of the show after the producer withheld taxes in his first installment check of that fee, demanding reissuance of the check in the full amount.
The amount of taxes DMX owed for the years in question is $1.7 million.
DMX’s attorney Murray Richman told Rakoff that the court-order drug rehabilitation program has been working well for DMX, saying the rapper is currently drug-free.
Dubbed “Don’t Worry Murray,” the Bronx-based defense attorney’s clients have included entertainers like Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Funk Master Flex, and D.L. Hughley, alongside top captains of New York City’s organized crime families.
Spotify released DMX’s own barking take on the Christmas classic “Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer,” produced by Yonkers-based collaborator Divine Bars, who attended most of DMX’s New York court appearances.
Rakoff ruminated on the intellectual challenges of being a federal judge on the Nov. 21 episode of the podcast “Stay Tuned With Preet,” run by Kim’s predecessor, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara.
When asked by Bharara what change to the justice system he wished he could make, Rakoff replied: “I would restore to judges almost total responsibility for sentencing. Not only by doing away with mandatory minimums and guidelines, but also closely related to that by having judges having some scrutiny over plea bargain, so that it wasn’t the prosecutor who was in effect sentencing or determining the sentence, but it was really the judge.”
Rakoff continued: “When left to themselves to determine what justice is, judges would do a far better job of sentencing and we would not have mass incarceration.”
Courthouse News Service