Rap singer Ja Rule has been released from a New York prison after serving nearly two years for possessing an illegal gun, but remained in federal custody as he still has time remaining on a concurrent sentence for failing to pay income taxes for his businesses.
The 36-year-old performer, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, served 20 months on his two-year sentence, with four months off for good behavior, after police found a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the backseat of his car in 2007. He pleaded guilty in December 2010 to the weapons charges and in March 2011 to tax charges. He admitted to failing to pay $1.1 million in back taxes on more than $3 million earned between 2004 and 2006 (see Rap Singer Ja Rule Sentenced on Tax Charges).
He was released from the Mid-State Correctional Facility on Thursday morning after serving time in protective custody because of his celebrity, according to MTV News. The Grammy-nominated rapper was transferred to the Oneida County Jail while awaiting notification of where he would be transferred to serve time on his tax evasion charges. His attorney estimated that he had about four months remaining on his sentence. However, he still needs to pay $1.1 million in back taxes and is reportedly eager to return to the recording studio to earn money to pay the sum.
“I in no way attempted to deceive the government or do anything illegal,” he said at his sentencing, according to BET. “I was a young man who made a lot of money. … I didn’t know how to deal with these finances, and I didn’t have people to guide me, so I made mistakes.”