By Teresa Ambord
Rapper Ja Rule spent the last nearly two years in prison at Ray Brook Correctional Facility in Upstate New York on charges that included illegal gun possession and tax evasion. Now he'll finish his sentence on home confinement. Ja Rule, age thirty-six, was born Jeffrey Atkins.
In 2010, Atkins was sentenced to twenty months on gun possession charges. Then, in 2011, he plead guilty to charges of tax evasion, which brought a sentence of twenty-eight months. The tax charges came after he failed to pay taxes in New Jersey on more than $3 million in income from 2004–2006.
Atkins earned some "good time" for his gun charges, but when that sentence ended, he still owed some time for tax evasion. The remainder of his sentence will be served at his home, monitored by authorities. If he secures permission, he'll be allowed to leave home to resume his professional duties as a performer. Atkins' tax debt is about $1.1 million, and he told MTV reporters he's eager to get back out there and work to clear the liability.
Atkins attributed his failure to pay taxes to a combination of circumstances: his youth, his huge income, and his lack of financial guidance. This is a story we hear all too often. Young entertainment and sports stars are suddenly overwhelmed with enormous fees, often in the form of 1099 income with no taxes withheld, and no idea how to handle it. To his credit, Adkins shouldered the blame himself.
"I in no way attempted to deceive the government or do anything illegal. I was a young man who made a lot of money – I'm getting a little choked up – I didn't know how to deal with these finances, and I didn't have people to guide me, so I made mistakes", he told the court.