Singer Lauryn Hill pleads guilty in N.J. to tax charges
FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012
BY JAMES QUIRK
Eight-time Grammy winner Lauryn Hill, who has remained out of the public eye for most of the past decade, pleaded guilty Friday in Newark federal court to failing to pay more than $1.5 million in taxes.
Hill, 37, a South Orange resident, was charged earlier this month with failing to file tax returns for three years in which she earned a total of about $1.8 million from music and film royalties.
Hill rose to fame as a member of the New Jersey hip-hop group The Fugees, which also launched the career of musician Wyclef Jean. Hill’s star rose even higher in 1998, when she released the critically-acclaimed solo effort “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which netted her five Grammys, including Album of the Year.
But Hill’s stratospheric rise sputtered in the following years, and her only subsequent album, “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0,” met with a tepid response - Rolling Stone described the album as “a public breakdown.” Hill, a mother of six, has since remained a reclusive figure, though she emerged earlier this month to perform at the annual Hot 97 Summer Jam festival in East Rutherford.
After she was charged with tax evasion, Hill posted a lengthy response on her Tumblr page, which is titled “Ms. Lauryn Hill.” In the post, Hill states that in the years that she is charged with not filing tax returns - 2005 to 2007 - she withdrew from society to protect her family.
“I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes, but it became increasingly obvious that certain indulgences and privileges were expected to come at the expense of my free soul, free mind, and therefore my health and integrity,” Hill wrote. “So I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it.”
Hill explained that during this time, there were “no exotic trips, no fleet of cars.”
But federal prosecutors were not swayed but her explanation and moved forward with charges.
“My intention has always been to get this situation rectified,” Hill wrote. “When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes. This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family.”