Ja Rule was due to be released from a New York state prison this morning after serving most of a two-year sentence for illegal gun possession, but the platinum-selling rapper isn’t finished doing time: The Associated Press reports that he’ll go directly into federal custody to complete a sentence for tax evasion.
His state prison term began in June 2011 and was the result of a 2010 traffic stop in which New York City police said they found a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun in Ja Rule’s car. He admitted in federal court in March 2011 that he failed to pay taxes on more than $3 million in income between 2004-06 and was sentenced to 28 months in prison.
Ja Rule’s defense attorney says the rapper may have fewer than six months left on his sentence and could be eligible for a halfway house. The lawyer, Stacey Richman, said Ja Rule still owes $1.1 million in back taxes, and is eager to resume working to pay the debt. “Many people are looking forward to experiencing his talent again,” Richman said.
Born Jeffery Atkins, Ja Rule, 36, landed a string of hit albums in the early 2000s, including his best-sellers, Rule 3:36 in 2000 and the Grammy-nominated Pain Is Love in 2001, each of which has sold in excess of 3 million copies. Last year he released Pain Is Love 2 while still incarcerated. He also appeared on a chart-topping remix of Jennifer Lopez’s 2001 hit “I’m Real.”