Rapper DMX pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges of dodging $1.7 million in income taxes.
“My life is in God’s hands,” the 46-year-old rapper said after his arraignment at Manhattan Federal Court.
DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, surrendered Thursday on a 14-count indictment accusing him of ducking the tax man in a multi-year fraud.
Prosecutors say Simmons pulled off the scheme by maintaining a cash lifestyle, avoiding personal bank accounts and setting up ones in the names of his business managers to pay personal expenses.
The gravelly voiced rapper was so intent on evading the IRS that he refused to tape a segment for the reality show “Couples Therapy” until he was issued a check for $125,000 that didn’t withhold taxes, the indictment says.
The $1.7 million in federal tax liabilities was accrued between 2002 and 2005, the indictment says.
The 46-year-old rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, leaves Manhattan Federal Court after his arraignment today, July 14, 2017.
Simmons earned more than $2.3 million from 2010 to 2015 but failed to file personal income taxes during that period, prosecutors say.
Simmons’ lawyer Murray Richman, speaking before the arraignment, said his client’s finances were largely controlled by others.
“To say that he schemed to defraud the government is absurd,” the lawyer added.
The bond for Simmons, who showed up in court in white boots, khaki pants and T-shirt with the word “RAW” scrawled across the front, was set at $500,000.
On his way out of the courthouse, Simmons said he wrote some rhymes while behind bars. He also thanked his supporters.
The rapper speaks to the media after pleading not guilty at Manhattan Federal Court today.
“It’s reinforcing love,” he said.
If convicted of the most serious charge, Simmons faces up to 44 years in prison.
He rocketed to fame in 1998 after releasing the platinum-selling album “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot,” featuring the hit track “Ruff Ryders Anthem.”
The Mount Vernon-born musician went on to release a total of six albums. He’s been nominated for three Grammy Awards and has appeared in more than 15 films.