June 29, 2012 / 5:09 PM / 6 years ago

Singer Lauryn Hill pleads guilty to evading taxes

NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, on Friday to three counts of failing to file federal income tax returns.

Singer Lauryn Hill performs on center stage at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, California April 15, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Hill, 37, a hip hop singer and rapper best known as a former member of the Fugees and for a Grammy-winning 1998 solo album, pleaded guilty to failing to file federal returns between 2005 and 2007, despite earning an income of more than $1.8 million primarily from film and recording royalties.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Hill said little in court and left without making a statement. Her sentencing date was set for November 27.

Hill was released on $150,000 bail that U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp said included being allowed to leave the country for music tours and a condition she must undergo mental health counseling. Her lawyer Nathan Hochman said Hill has been in family counseling for the past ten years.

“This is not mental health counseling, this is family counseling. Ms. Hill is very particular about language,” Hochman told reporters outside the court.

Hill, who has six children, responded to the charges earlier this month in a lengthy statement, saying she had chosen to “defer” payments during a period of withdrawal from society to protect her family’s safety.

She gave few specifics in the rambling statement, in which she railed against manipulation by “a media-protected military industrial complex”, the commercialization of the music industry and of having her freedom of speech compromised.

When asked what dangers Hill faced, Hochman referred reporters back to her original statement.

The reclusive singer, who began her solo career in 1998 with a smash hit album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” has not released an album since 2001 and has made only sporadic public appearances in the past six years.

But for little more than a year she has stepped up appearances with a series of live performances at smaller venues and festivals.

Reporting By Barbara Goldberg, writing by Christine Kearney, Editing by Philip Barbara

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