Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill was sentenced Monday to three months in prison and an additional three months in home confinement for failing to pay taxes on about $1 million in earnings.
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Hill, a 37-year-old South Orange resident, pleaded guilty last year in the case.
During a forceful statement to the judge Monday, 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, echoing a defense she wrote last year in a long post online.
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“I needed to be able to earn so I could pay my taxes, without compromising the health and welfare of my children, and I was being denied that,” Hill said Monday, without explaining what exactly triggered her actions.
Before the sentencing, her attorney had said Hill had paid more than $970,000 to satisfy the state and federal tax liabilities.
Hill had faced a maximum sentence of one year each on three counts. Her attorney had sought probation.
It’s not clear when or where she’d report to prison.
Hill got her start with The Fugees and began her solo career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
She then largely disappeared from public view to raise her six children, five of whom she had with Rohan Marley, the son of reggae singer Bob Marley.
At the time of her arrest last year, Hill wrote a criticism rejecting pop culture’s “climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism.”
“Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual,” Hill wrote. “I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival.”
She also said she hadn’t paid taxes since she withdrew from society to guarantee her family’s safety but that she always intended to rectify the situation.