Troubled Lauryn Hill sentenced to 3 months in prison

lauryn hill at cape town jazz festival photographed by susan wong 2012
Grammy winning singer Lauryn Hill was sentenced to 3 months in jail on Monday in federal court, a year after pleading guilty to failure to pay taxes. Ms. Hill has repaid more than $900,000 in the past few days, but the US Attorney’s office says she still owes interest and penalties.

Ms. Hill pled guilty to failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million, earned from 2005 to 2007. The sentence also takes into account unpaid state and federal taxes in 2008 and 2009 that brought the total earnings to $2.3 million.

Ms. Hill defended herself by saying she failed to pay taxes during a period when she’d dropped out of the music business to protect herself and her children. She said the treatment she received while in the entertainment business led to her decision to leave it. The prosecution though was stern, and despite acknowledging Ms Hill’s creative talent, termed her actions “ a parade of excuses that don’t exempt her from her responsibilities”.

 According to the Associated Press:

The 37-year-old South Orange resident pleaded guilty last year in the case.


During a forceful statement to the judge, Hill explained she had always meant to eventually pay the taxes but was unable to during a period of time when she dropped out of the music business.


Before the sentencing, her attorney had said Hill had paid more than $970,000 to satisfy the state and federal tax liabilities.

The 37-year-old mother of six had faced a maximum sentence of one year each on three counts of failing to file taxes. Her attorney had sought probation, arguing that Hill’s charitable works, her family circumstances and the fact she paid back the taxes she owed should merit consideration.

In addition to serving three months in prison, Hill must pay a $60,000 fine. After she is released from prison, she will be under parole supervision for a year, the first three months of which will be spent under home confinement.

Hill is to report to prison by July 8, although it is unclear at which faciltity she will serve out her sentence.

lauryn hill jail

Lauryn Hill came into the limelight as the front woman of hip hop group The Fugees, whose 1996 album The Score established the band as international superstars. Her solo debut, The Miseducationof Lauryn Hill, is one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time, and won Hill a then unprecedented 5 grammys in one night, making her the first woman to achieve this feat. In 2000, she dropped out of the public eye, saying she needed time away. Fugee-mate and one time lover Wyclef Jean was quoted as saying Hill is bipolar, as an explanation for her erratic public behaviour. Hill returned to music in 2011, performing at Coachella Valley Music Festival. Her attorney had also issued a statement that Hill had recently signed a contract with Sony.

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