Ronald Isley, lead singer of legendary R&B band the Isley Brothers, went on trial on yesterday (Oct. 12) in Los Angeles on tax evasion charges that could result in a prison sentence of up to 26 years if convicted.
Isley, 64, who emerged from bankruptcy in the early 1990s, is accused of demanding fees in cash for his tour dates, making it difficult to determine how much of his upfront tour fees were used for expenses and how much was profit.
He is also accused of using for his own benefit royalty checks issued to other Isley Brothers-related enterprises and people, including his brother O’Kelly, who died in 1986.
Prosecutors say he used the funds to buy a yacht and two mansions in Missouri. Isley has pleaded not guilty to five counts of tax evasion and one count of failing to file a tax return. No figure has been given for the amount of alleged tax evasion.
The main prosecution witness is Isley’s former tour manager, Ruby Martin, who worked with the singer for eight years and who is testifying under immunity from charges that she did not file her own income taxes on time for four years.
The Isley Brothers enjoyed their biggest success in the 1960s and 1970s with hits like “This Old Heart of Mine” and “Who’s That Lady.” Members came and went but in 1990 Ronald and younger brothers Ernie and Marvin reunited and produced several new albums.
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