(Corrects charge to tax fraud, not tax evasion, in second paragraph.)
By Gina Cherelus
NEW YORK, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Rap artist and actor DMX pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court to avoiding paying $1.7 million in taxes from 2000 to 2005 by shifting money among accounts belonging to managers and associates.
DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to one count of tax fraud. Prosecutors had accused him of hiding millions of dollars he earned from hit songs, including “X Gon’ Give it to Ya” and “Where the Hood At.”
“I failed to file taxes,” Simmons, 46, said to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff. “I’m responsible, even placing other people in charge of it.”
Simmons, of Yonkers, New York, faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and $100,000 in fines. He also will be required to pay the $1.7 million in back taxes.
Rakoff had to query Simmons repeatedly before he admitted that he knew he was evading taxes.
As he left the courtroom, Simmons told reporters he was relieved the trial period was over. Simmons’ sentencing is set for March 29.
He had pleaded not guilty in July and was released on a $500,000 bond. His bail conditions required Simmons to remain in New York, but Rakoff granted him permission to perform in Denver, Los Angeles and New Orleans.
Prosecutors said Simmons evaded paying taxes through a cash-only lifestyle and by depositing royalty checks in various third-party bank accounts.
Simmons said that the accounts were held by multiple managers, his ex-wife and one of his children’s mothers. Simmons has 15 children by different women.
The rap star’s prior arrest record includes charges of animal cruelty, reckless driving, drug possession, weapons charges and probation violations. He has had several felony convictions and served prison time in Arizona.
Simmons made headlines this week after officially releasing his own rendition of the classic Christmas song, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The release followed a video of him rapping the song in his well-known hoarse voice that went viral in 2012.
Along with his rap career, Simmons has starred in such films as the 1998 crime drama “Belly,” the 2000 action movie “Romeo Must Die” and the 2003 heist film “Cradle 2 The Grave.” (Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Ian Simpson in Washington)