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Rapper DMX pleads not guilty to dodging $1.7M tax debt

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/14/2017 By TOM HAYS, Associated Press
Rapper DMX, left, leaves federal court in New York, Friday, July 14, 2017, with his attorney Murray Richman after pleading not guilty to tax evasion. Authorities say the hip hop star, whose real name is Earl Simmons, owes $1.7 million in back taxes. (AP Photo/Tom Hays) © The Associated Press Rapper DMX, left, leaves federal court in New York, Friday, July 14, 2017, with his attorney Murray Richman after pleading not guilty to tax evasion. Authorities say the hip hop star, whose real name is Earl Simmons, owes $1.7 million in back taxes. (AP Photo/Tom Hays)

NEW YORK (AP) — Rapper DMX walked free on Friday after pleading not guilty to what the Internal Revenue Service described as a brazen effort to evade $1.7 million in taxes, saying his faith and loyal fans would keep his career on track.

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2009 photo, DMX arrives at the 2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York. DMX has been arrested in New York Thursday, July 13, 2017, on federal tax fraud charges. Prosecutors say the rapper, whose given name is Earl Simmons, owes $1.7 million in taxes and has engaged in a multi-year scheme to conceal millions of dollars of income from the Internal Revenue Service. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2009 photo, DMX arrives at the 2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, in New York. DMX has been arrested in New York Thursday, July 13, 2017, on federal tax fraud charges. Prosecutors say the rapper, whose given name is Earl Simmons, owes $1.7 million in taxes and has engaged in a multi-year scheme to conceal millions of dollars of income from the Internal Revenue Service. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)

"It's allowed me to not be scared of the situation and face it head-on, you know what I'm saying?" the multi-platinum hip-hop artist, who's real name is Earl Simmons, told reporters. "My life is in God's hands."

FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2006 file photo, rapper DMX is shown in New York. DMX has been arrested Thursday, July 13, 2017, in New York on federal tax fraud charges. Prosecutors say the rapper, whose given name is Earl Simmons, owes $1.7 million in taxes and has engaged in a multi-year scheme to conceal millions of dollars of income from the Internal Revenue Service. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, File) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2006 file photo, rapper DMX is shown in New York. DMX has been arrested Thursday, July 13, 2017, in New York on federal tax fraud charges. Prosecutors say the rapper, whose given name is Earl Simmons, owes $1.7 million in taxes and has engaged in a multi-year scheme to conceal millions of dollars of income from the Internal Revenue Service. (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, File)
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Asked how his fans would react to his latest brush with the law, he responded, "It's reinforcing the love."

DMX, who's from Yonkers, entered the not guilty plea at a brief hearing in federal court in Manhattan. He had surrendered on Thursday and spent a night in custody before being released on $500,000 bond.

An indictment alleges he stopped paying taxes in the early 2000s at the peak of his career, when he was making millions of dollars off chart-topping songs including "X Gon' Give it to Ya," appearances in movies such as "Romeo Must Die" and performances at sold-out arenas.

As DMX's tax bill skyrocketed, he funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in music royalty income into his managers' bank accounts, prosecutors say. The managers took their fees and then gave anything left over to him in cash for his personal expenses, they say.

In another evasion tactic, DMX's managers would take deposits for half of his fee beforehand, and he would collect the rest in cash the day of the performance without reporting the income, the indictment says.

The papers also allege that when taxes were withheld from his first payment for an appearance on the "Couples Therapy" reality show around 2011, he threatened to quit. No further deductions were made after that, they say.

In 2015, DMX, who's 46, was sentenced to six months in jail on charges he failed to pay $400,000 to his ex-wife for support of their four children.

A magistrate judge on Friday restricted DMX's travel to within the New York City area, except when cleared to perform elsewhere. Outside court, the rapper took the opportunity to plug a hip-hop festival he's headlining on Saturday.

"Tomorrow night. Brooklyn. See you there," he said.

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