Grammy Award-winning singer Lauryn Hill has pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges in a New Jersey court. After failing to file returns between 2005 and 2007, the former Fugee could face up a $75,000 fine and three years in prison — one for each year of evasion.
TMZ first reported the news Friday morning (June 29), saying Hill admitted to "intentionally and willingly" ignoring her responsibility to file yearly tax returns on more than $1.5 million of income. After the plea, Hill was released on $150,000 bail. She will reappear in the Newark courthouse for sentencing in November.
News of Hill's hefty tax bill broke earlier this month, and she was quick to respond to the news, releasing an open letter to her fans explaining her decision to retreat from both society and family during this period of time. "For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground," she wrote.
"I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes," she continued. "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, who rose to prominence as a rapper, singer and songwriter in the Fugees and became a cultural icon after the release of her 1998 album Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill, seemed to disappear while raising her six children. In recent years, she has returned to the stage, performing shows to mixed reviews and most recently appearing as a surprise guest at Summer Jam, a yearly hip-hop concert sponsored and promoted by New York City rap station Hot 97.