Ronald Isley, lead singer of the legendary R&B act the Isley Brothers, has been indicted on tax evasion charges, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The 63-year-old artist, who suffered a minor stroke in August, was named in a six-count indictment returned Wednesday (Oct. 13) by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. He is charged with five counts of tax evasion for failing to report income from royalties and performances by the band and one count of failing to file an income tax return.
No figure was given for the amount of the alleged tax evasion but the charges carry a maximum penalty of 26 years in prison. Isley could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Isley Brothers formed in the early 1950s and enjoyed their biggest success in the 1960s and 1970s with hits like their cover of “Twist and Shout,” “This Old Heart of Mine” and “Who’s That Lady.” Members came and went, but in 1990 Ronald and his younger brothers Ernie and Marvin reunited and produced several new albums.
The indictment against Ronald Isley covers 1997-2002 and alleges that he evaded payment by depositing and using for his own benefit royalty checks issued to other Isley Brothers-related entities and members of the band, including his brother O’Kelly, who died in 1986.
While on tour, Isley required that half his fee be paid in cash on each tour date and that he paid his musicians and performances in cash, the IRS said.
Isley is alleged to have controlled several bank accounts, and to have told his booking agent to send part of his tour performance fees directly to third parties for his own benefit.
The IRS said Isley used some of the money from his various accounts to buy a yacht, a $1.8-million house in St. Louis in 1997 and a 100-acre estate in Missouri for approximately $1 million.
An IRS spokesperson said Isley had not filed an income tax return between 1997 and 2001, which made it difficult for authorities to determine either his income or how much tax may have been avoided.
Isley is expected to make his first court appearance regarding the charges early next month.
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