Rapper and actor Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, was sentenced this week to more than two years in federal prison for failing to file income tax returns between 2004 and 2006. He had faced up to three years in prison for the charges.
The sentencing follows a plea agreement into the rapper's finances from 2004 to 2008. As part of the plea, the government dropped counts against Ja Rule for failing to pay taxes in 2007 and 2008.
Ja Rule is already serving a two-year sentence in a federal prison on a gun charge stemming from his 2007 arrest in New York City. At the time of the arrest, Ja Rule was found with drugs and a gun; fellow rapper Lil Wayne was arrested after the same show that evening. Ja Rule pleaded guilty to the weapons charges and asked to have the tax evasion sentence served concurrently with the weapons sentence. He was granted a delay at the start of his original sentence so that he could finish his new album.
While some may have grumbled at the appearance of favorable treatment with the delay, there is a rationale behind it. Ja Rule has been ordered to pay back $1.1 million in unpaid taxes plus penalty and interest; without a source of income, the government doesn't stand much of a chance in getting its money back.
The rapper once boasted quite the successful career, promoting not only his own albums, but appearing on other artist's albums as well. In 2002, Ja Rule collaborated on albums with Fat Joe, Mary J. Blige, Bobby Brown and Ashanti. That time period also marked a host of problems for the rapper, including public disputes with fellow rappers DMX, Eminem and 50 Cent.
A couple of years later, in 2004, the rapper was arrested for driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana. The 2004 arrest didn't seem to phase Ja Rule at all. His November 2004 release - just a few months after the arrest - of his studio album R.U.L.E. debuted at No. 7, selling 166,000 copies in its first week of release. The album's lead single, "Wonderful" featuring R. Kelly and Ashanti, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 100 Singles chart.
This latest prison stint may not have the same outcome. While some rappers, like Snoop Dogg, tend to come out of prison with even more of a following, that hasn't happened for Ja Rule to date. Let's face it: "Tax Evasion Was the Case" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
- Ja Rule
- income tax returns
- studio album
- lead single
- Fat Joe
- Lil Wayne
- R. Kelly
- plea agreement
- 50 Cent
- Snoop Dogg
- Mary J. Blige