Judge Gives DMX 1 Year for Tax Evasion

Rapper DMX leaves federal court in New York on Aug. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Larry Neumeister, File)

MANHATTAN (CN) – Labeling the rapper’s tax evasion as “brazen and blatant,” a federal judge sentenced DMX on Wednesday to one year in prison.

Attorneys for DMX had pushed for probation, but U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff called the sentence, which includes three years of probation, as a “modest amount of imprisonment, emphasis on modest.”

The rapper took full responsibility for his crimes at the hour-long hearing this afternoon, admitting that he didn’t follow up with the associates whom he had assigned to handle his finances.

“I was in a cloud. I wasn’t really thinking at all. I was out of it,” DMX told the court.

“I didn’t believe that shit stank,” he added.

Once DMX is released, beginning a three-year term of probation, he must pay nearly $2.3 million in restitution in monthly installments of 10 percent of his gross income.

Rakoff noted that a positive letter from the warden of the Metropolitan Correctional Center greatly helped in the sentencing.

Otherwise known as Earl Simmons, the 47-year-old Yonkers native has been in MCC custody since January because he violated the conditions of his release by testing positive for cocaine, opiates and oxycodone.

DMX’s term of supervised release includes special conditions requiring outpatient treatment for drugs and alcohol rehabilitation and outpatient treatment for mental health.

During his statement to the court, DMX offered an alternate version of an incident included by prosecutors in their complaint, in which he had been taping an appearance on the television show “Celebrity Couples Therapy” in 2012 but allegedly refused to finish the segment until his check was issued without withholding taxes.

DMX said that he could not have stormed off the set because taping was already over. He said he was shocked that the checks were in three nonincremenatal installments, and that he did not want to pay taxes twice since his manager would take them out.

“I never went to that level of tax evasion,” DMX emphasized, saying he wasn’t acting “like a criminal in a comic book.”

In court this afternoon, DMX’s legal team, Murray Richman, Stacey Richman and Renee Hill, were permitted by Rakoff to play four minutes of the clean version of DMX’s 1998 autobiographical song “Slippin’” to emphasize the humanity of their client’s street upbringing.

Murray Richman, an 80-year-old attorney from the Bronx who has represented other New York rappers including Jay-Z, Ja Rule and Shyne, compared modern rap music to the writers of the Romantic era like Keats, Byron and Shelley.

“It’s spectacular and it’s meaningful,” Richman proclaimed, “It talks to your soul.”

The song and video shown in court for “Slippin’” depict a young DMX responding to gritty and abusive environment with a lifestyle of violence and drugs, then seeking an existence beyond that.

“Gots to change cause I’ve got a son,” he raps. “I gots to do the right thing for shorty, and that means no more gettin’ high, drinkin 40’s.”

While issuing the sentence, Rakoff acknowledged DMX’s life as “one more of how the sins of the parents are visited upon their children,” noting the models of immorality and irresponsibility in that environment.

Rakoff observed that DMX is “his own worst enemy,” likening his conflicted character to the line “each man kills the thing he loves” from “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” a poem penned in prison by Oscar Wilde.

DMX pleaded guilty back in November to one count of the 14 against him, admitting that he concealed millions made from music royalties and television appearances.

Prosecutors went after the rapper after he failed to pay taxes between 2010 and 2015, despite earning more than $2.3 million over that period.

DMX had tried to maintain a cash lifestyle during those years, avoiding use of a bank account and relying on associates to handle various expenses using their accounts.

In their bid for a sentence of probation, attorneys and managers for DMX noted that he would be in a better position to pay restitution if allowed to tour.

They noted that 2018 marks the 20th anniversaries of his debut record “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” and the follow-up released seven months later “Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood,” which they suggested would be produce significant earnings for DMX if was able to do live performances in 2018.

Judge Rakoff is an outspoken critic of mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. In an article for the The New York Review Books, Rakoff said he believes that those types of minimums “substantially deprived judges of sentencing discretion and effectively guaranteed imprisonment for many offenders who would have previously received probation or deferred prosecution, or who would have been sent to drug treatment or mental health programs rather than prison.”

The judge announced at the beginning of today’s sentencing hearing that he views sentencing guidelines as “inherently irrational.”

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