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Rapper DMX, pleading guilty to tax evasion, faces up to 5 years in prison

DMX, aka Earl Simmons (center), pled guilty to tax evasion on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2017. / Charles Eckert

Rapper DMX pleaded guilty to more than $1 million in tax evasion Thursday in Manhattan federal court, and faces up to five years in prison.

DMX, whose given name is Earl Simmons, was charged over the summer with hiding income and skirting about $1.7 million in taxes. His plea comes just a day after he released a cover of the Christmas song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

In court, Simmons confirmed that he hadn’t paid taxes on his income from 2002 to 2005 of several million dollars, and that the money — including royalties he earned — went to his managers’ bank accounts and to two women with whom he fathered children, one an ex-wife. Simmons is the father of 15 children.

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In some cases, Simmons said, he deposited money in his managers’ accounts and received cash.

“I failed to pay taxes,” Simmons said during the hearing. “I’m responsible, even putting other people in charge of it. But at the end of the day, the law states that I’m responsible.”

Following his court appearance, Simmons was asked by a reporter if he was relieved the hearing was over. Donning a bomber jacket and tan long-sleeved shirt, he replied simply, “Yes.”

“He faces responsibility and he stood up to it,” said his attorney, Murray Richman, after the hearing. “There was no question that he came to rely on other people . . . but it was his duty.”

Richman said Simmons is in a rehabilitation program, months after skipping out on bail and testing positive for multiple drugs. He was about 20 minutes late to court Thursday because, according to his attorney, he was stuck in traffic commuting from the program in Massachusetts. He is drug-free and making good progress in the program, Richman said.

Simmons is expected to be sentenced March 29. He faces up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $100,000 fine. Initially, he was charged with 14 counts and had faced up to 43 years in prison, Richman said.

Simmons had been released on a $500,000 bond that required him to stay in the state and take drug tests. But he allegedly left New York twice without permission — once to go to St. Louis (his attorney has said it was a family emergency) and once to Chicago — and he failed at least four tests for cocaine, marijuana and opiates.

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U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff then placed him on 24/7 home detention for violating his bail, but Richman said he has since been allowed to attend events on various occasions.