Eight-time Grammy Award winning singer Lauryn Hill could face up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to evading federal taxes.
The former Fugees star made the guilty plea today in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., after being charged three weeks ago with three counts of failing to pay taxes on the more than $1.5 million she earned in 2005, 2006 and 2007 from recording and film royalties.
Each count carries a maximum one-year prison sentence, meaning the 37-year-old singer and mother-of-six could face up to three years in prison.
Hill began her musical career with The Fugees but broke out as a solo artist with the 1998 release of award-winning album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
One day after the charges against her were made public, Hill issued a statement on her Tumblr account to explain why she failed to pay the taxes, saying she withdrew herself and her family – including her five kids with Rohan Marley, the son of famed reggae singer Bob Marley – from the public eye to distance them from a lifestyle “that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it.”
“For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground,” she wrote. “I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda.”
Hill, dressed in a dark jacket and long skirt as she made her way into court today, plans to repay the taxes she owes the government, her attorney said in court. That was a similar pledge she made in her earlier online statement.
“Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution,” she wrote. “My intention has always been to get this situation rectified.”
After pleading guilty, Hill was released on $150,000 bail.
U.S. Magistrate Michael Shipp delayed Hill’s sentencing hearing until late November in order to give Hill time to make the payments, court records show.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.