No Jail for DMX Despite Drug Use Ahead of Tax Trial

The rapper DMX stands with his attorney, Murray Richman, outside a federal courthouse in Manhattan on July 14, 2017, after pleading not guilty to charges of tax evasion. (JOSH RUSSELL/CNS)

MANHATTAN (CN) – DMX faces home confinement and ankle monitoring ahead of his upcoming tax-evasion trial, a federal judge ruled Friday, declining to send the rapper to jail for drug use and travel that violated bail terms.

DMX, 46, clutched tissues to his face at the court hearing today as U.S. District Judge Ned Rakoff found the rapper violated the terms of his bail provisions “probably more times than I can remember,” outdoing any other defendant “in such a short period of time.”

During four drug screenings with pretrial services in July and August, DMX tested positive for cocaine, marijuana and opiates, Rakoff said.

“I’m not going to detain in him jail,” U.S. District Judge Ned Rakoff said, despite noting that that the rapper-actor “certainly made one of the better cases for locking himself up.”

When asked for comment after the hearing, the sunglasses-adorned DMX quoted biblical psalm Romans 8:31 as pretrial services readied to fasten an electronic bracelet on his ankle. “When God is for you,” DMX said, “who can be against you?”

DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was given bail on July 14 after his arrest on 14 counts of tax evasion. Wearing a blue tie-dyed Def Leppard “Adrenalize” T-shirt, as well as Timberland boots and a sparkling chain necklace, DMX attended this today’s hearing flanked by his attorneys, father-and-daughter team, Murray and Stacey Richman.

The 24-7, home-confinement order Judge Rakoff issued today allows for DMX to enter an outpatient drug-rehabilitation facility to treat his drug addiction, “which is gross” in Rakoff’s calculation.

Judge Rakoff warned that DMX would need the judge’s permission to “even go outside to water the lawn” of his Westchester residence.

In addition to his drug use, DMX apparently left New York City area in violation of travel restrictions, appearing in Chicago and St. Louis.

Attorneys for DMX chalked the St. Louis trip up to a private family emergency, which they discussed in camera with Judge Rakoff. A medical defense for the trip was also kept private.

On July 22, DMX played the Chicago Theatre alongside Rakim, EPMD, KRS-One, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah as part of The Art of Rap Tour package.

According to the report read by Judge Rakoff, four days after the Chicago trip, DMX tested positive for marijuana, cocaine and opiates at his pretrial services screening.

DMX denied the drug use and cited a prescription painkiller as the reason for testing positive for opiates.

Judge Rakoff read through a litany of previous criminal offenses in DMX’s rap sheet, noting that it suggests he has “more than a passing acquaintance with illegal drugs.”

Murray Richman argued in favor of keeping his client out of pretrial detention, to “keep him earning” and “support the numerous children he has.”

DMX reportedly celebrated the birth of his 15th child a year ago last August.

Richman called DMX “a substance person, a very good person,” who has learned his lesson.

Judge Rakoff voiced skepticism, questioning whether Richman is doing DMX a disservice by keeping him out of jail over the years. 

The attorney’s “typically superlative efforts,” Rakoff said, may have instilled the wrong lesson that “he’s free to thumb his nose at the court and pretrial services … because Murray Richman will always get him off.”

“I have to wonder if he really has learned his lesson,” Rakoff added.

Judge Rakoff was initially content to let DMX walk off without electronic monitoring, but conceded to a pretrial services officer’s request for location monitoring, noting that he considered it “a pain in the butt” for the officers themselves.

DMX is charged with 14 counts of tax evasion, accusing him of failing to pay more than $1.7 million in taxes dating back to 2002, as part of what government attorneys called an “off-the-radar” cash-based lifestyle.

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