Rapper and actor Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, pleaded guilty Tuesday to failing to pay federal income taxes on more than $3 million earned between 2004 and 2006. He faces up to three years in prison for the charges, as well as penalties.The plea agreement comes after an investigation into Atkins' failure to pay taxes from 2004 through 2008. Assuming that Atkins meets the conditions of his plea agreement, the government will drop two additional counts against him for failing to pay taxes in 2007 and 2008.
Atkins' income in 2007 and 2008 was significantly less than in 2004, 2005 and 2006. Atkins' income peaked in 2005 after the November 2004 release of Ja Rule's sixth studio album R.U.L.E, which debuted at No. 7, selling 166,000 copies in its first week of release. The album's lead single was "Wonderful," featuring R. Kelly and Ashanti -- it peaked on the Billboard Top 100 Singles chart at No. 5.
This isn't Atkins' first run-in with the law. In 2003, he allegedly punched a man in Canada; the matter was settled out of court. The following year, Atkins was arrested for driving with a suspended license and possession of marijuana.
In 2007, Atkins was arrested again on drug possession charges, along with fellow rapper Lil Wayne. Police also found a gun at the scene; Atkins eventually pleaded guilty to the weapons charges and received a two-year jail sentence. Atkins has not served time on the weapons charge; his attorney is expected to ask to have the tax evasion sentence served concurrently with the weapons sentence.
Atkins has promised, through his attorney, to pay the delinquent taxes. He's scheduled to be sentenced June 13 on the three tax evasion charges and faces up to a year in prison and $100,000 in fines on each count.
Atkins' attorney has said, about the rapper's problems, "He's been working on addressing these issues for some time, and he's taking full responsibility."
Ja Rule Faces Jail Time for Guilty Plea on Tax Charges