Method Man pleads guilty to tax evasion

Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:52pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Wu-Tang Clan member Method Man pleaded guilty on Monday to evading state taxes over a four-year period, costing the music star more than $100,000 in fines and fees.

The rapper, 39, whose real name is Clifford Smith, was arrested in October 2009 owing nearly $33,000 to the New York state government from 2004 through 2007.

His attorney, Peter M. Frankel, said the mistake was caused by a previous accountant, who has since been replaced. "He had business people who were supposed to file, but didn't," Frankel said. "As soon as he found about it, he took responsibility."

Method Man ended up paying a total of $106,000 in back taxes, penalties, fines and interest.

"Failure to pay your taxes is not a victimless crime," said Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan. "In these days of massive budget shortfalls and service cuts, tax evasion is a crime against all New Yorkers. Whether you are a celebrity or an 'Average Joe,' you will be investigated, arrested and prosecuted.

In 1995, Smith won a Grammy for his collaboration with fellow hip-hop artist Mary J. Blige on "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By," a remake of a Marvin Gaye hit. Since parting with Wu-Tang , Smith has appeared in numerous television shows and most recently has been promoting Def Jam Rap Star, a rap-themed video game.

(Reporting by Karina Ioffee; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

<p>Clifford "Method Man" Smith performs with the "Wu Tang Clan" during the Rock The Bells Festival in New York July 28, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>