Ja Rule Sentenced To 28 Months in Prison for Unpaid Tax Debt
NEWARK, N.J. –“Judge rule”—Despite pleas of financial ignorance, a federal court judge sentenced rapper Ja Rule to 28 months in prison Monday for failing to pay Uncle Sam more than $1 million in back taxes.
"I in no way attempted to deceive the government," the 35-year-old performer and movie actor, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, declared in federal court in Newark after apologizing to U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz.
Atkins, of Saddle River, N.J., pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor tax charges.
Before a packed courtroom dressed in his yellow prison jumpsuit and shackled Atkins claimed that his youth and lack of proper financial guidance were the reasons for his failure to file tax returns between 2004 and 2008 for which he earned $4.38 million.
Atkins, who is already serving a two-year sentence in New York for attempted criminal weapon possession, told U.S. Magistrate Shwartz: 'I'm getting a little choked up -- I didn't know how to deal with these finances, and I didn't have people to guide me, so I made mistakes.'
'Things fell on hard times for me (and) kind of spun out of control.'
Under a plea deal, he was allowed to plead guilty to three of five tax counts. The remaining charges were dismissed Monday.
As part of his plea, Atkins promised to pay more than $1.1 million to the Internal Revenue Service.
In rendering her sentence, Shwartz said Atkins was a talented and successful man, "blessed with creativity," who entertained troops in a dangerous arena, took his family obligations seriously, and had spearheaded a program that advocated education over incarceration. She added he had demonstrated sincere contrition and a willingness to make amends.
But she added, "Taxpayers do not have the luxury of deciding whether to comply with laws."