Joseph "Fat Joe" Cartagena has been sentenced to four months in prison for tax evasion. The rapper got jail time after pleading guilty in a December court hearing to two counts of failing to file tax returns on more than $1 million in income in the years of 2007 and 2008.
Joe was originally accused of evading taxes on nearly $3 million of income between the years of 2007 and 2010, totaling a tax loss of $718,038. Under a plea agreement with the prosecutors, he got the charges reduced to not filing tax returns for two years only.
The judge gave Joe credit for his efforts to pay his tax debts prior to his sentencing and for his charity. Around 60 letters on his behalf, including one from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz who cited Joe's computer donations to local schools, were received by court.
The 42-year-old hip-hop star received his sentencing at a federal court in Newark, New Jersey, where the companies he earns money from is based. They include Somerville, N.J.-based Terror Squad Production Inc. and Miramar Music Touring Inc.
The "Lean Back" hitmaker is ordered to report to prison by August 26. In addition to serving jail time, the Bronx-born rapper is fined $15,000 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor and sentenced to one year of supervised release.
The rapper apologized to family and fans for letting them down. He said in the court that his 6-year-old daughter was being taunted by her classmates for what happened. "There was a lot going on in the years that I didn't file my taxes, but it was my responsibility," he said.
"I did everything I could to achieve what I could, to move my family; I tried to stay positive, focus on the positive, and get myself out," he added. "I guess I'm surprised, caused I worked so hard to not end up in court, that I'm here. This is the last place I thought I would be."
Prior to the sentencing, Joe addressed his tax problems blaming it to his accountant. "You gotta understand we hire guys who are supposed (sic) have Harvard degrees to take care of us (stars)," he explained to RapFix Live.
"All the time you see artists, the first thing they did to you when you caught money was introduce you to a bunch of fancy guys with bow ties who are gonna take care of your money and all that and then you always see an artist or a celebrity or somebody like that goin' down for it and these guys never go down for it."
Fat Joe is the latest well-known musician to be sentenced for tax evasion. Ja Rule got 28 months behind bars, while Lauryn Hill was sentenced to three months in prison for failing to pay about $1 million in taxes over the past decade.