MANHATTAN (CN) – DMX pleaded not guilty Friday afternoon on federal charges that he failed to pay at least $1.7 million in taxes dating back to 2002.
A lifelong resident of Yonkers in Westchester County, New York, the 46-year-old rapper otherwise known as Earl Simmons voluntarily surrendered himself to authorities Thursday afternoon after he was indicted on 14 counts of tax-related crimes.
Prosecutors say the IRS has been trying to collect DMX’s unpaid tax liabilities since 2005, accusing the platinum-selling artist of failing to pay $1.7 million worth of tax on income generated since 2002 from musical recordings and performances.
Though DMX earned at least $2.3 million between 2010 and 2015, according to the indictment, he never filed personal income tax returns for those years.
The government says the famously gruff-voiced DMX has been scheming to evade taxes “largely by maintaining a cash lifestyle, avoiding the use of a personal bank account, and using the bank accounts of nominees, including his business managers, to pay personal expenses.”
One source of income for DMX during the years in question was his 2012 appearance on the television show “Celebrity Couples Therapy.”
Prosecutors say the producer initially withheld taxes from the first installment of his $125,000 appearance fee, and that DMX refused to complete the taping of his segment until his check was reissued without withholding taxes.
The indictment also cites DMX’s personal bankruptcy filing in which he listed his gross income for 2011 and 2012 as “unknown” and as $10,000 in 2013.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim alleges that DMX’s actual incomes for those years were $353,000, $542,000 and $250,000, respectively.
Kim followed the announcement of DMX’s arrest with a pair of tweets referencing the rapper’s celebrity status. “While earning millions from hits like ‘X Gon’ Give It to Ya,’ DMX didn’t give any of it to the IRS,” Kim posted to the Southern District of New York’s official Twitter account. “Celebrity rapper or not, all Americans must pay their taxes,” another post states.
Wearing a G-Star Raw brand T-shirt, khakis and laces-free Timberland boots, DMX pleaded not guilty to all counts in a speedy arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck.
He was immediately released 10 percent of a half-million-dollar personal recognizance bond.
Represented by attorney Murray Richman during the appearance, DMX took hits from asthma inhaler while nursing a gruff cough.
With a light rain falling on New York this afternoon, manager Pat Gallo gave the rapper a New York City sweatshirt before heading to outdoor press huddle.
Outside of the Southern District courthouse, DMX thanked fans for their support and pledged to take it “one step at a time” going forward with the trial.
No stranger to courtroom appearances, DMX has previously faced charges of animal cruelty, dog fighting, drug possession, weapons possession, reckless driving, driving under the influence and probation infractions.
In addition to his rapping career, DMX has acted in action movies like “Belly,” “Romeo Must Die” and “Cradle 2 The Grave.”
In 2015, DMX was one of several celebrities to make a television cameo on the ABC comedy “Fresh Off the Boat.”
Conditions of DMX’s release include travel restricted to the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, with allowances for contractually obligated performances to be determined on June 17 in hearing with U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.
DMX faces a maximum of 44 years in prison if convicted on all charges.
In 2010, DMX filed a lawsuit accusing his royalty administrator of absconding with more half a million a half million dollars of domestic and foreign royalties.
DMX was sentenced to six months in jail in 2015 for failing to pay $400,000 in child support, but he ultimately served just two months at the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, New York.