By Gabriella Borter
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Rap artist and Hollywood actor DMX was headed to federal court in New York City on Friday for his arraignment on charges he avoided paying $1.7 million in taxes.
Earl Simmons, 46, whose stage name is DMX, was arrested on Thursday after federal prosecutors said he engaged in a multiyear scheme to conceal millions of dollars of income from hit songs including "X Gon' Give it to Ya" and "Where the Hood At."
He was charged with tax evasion, evasion of assessment of income tax liability, corruptly endeavoring to obstruct administration of IRS laws and the failure to file a U.S. individual income tax return, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Simmons faces up to five years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
His lawyer, Murray Richman, told Reuters on Thursday that the artist's focus was making music and he has been "charged over the failure of others to do what he hired them to do."
Prosecutors maintain Simmons actively evaded his tax obligations by sticking to a cash-only lifestyle and depositing royalty checks into the bank accounts of his managers, who then gave him cash or used the money to pay his personal expenses.
The rap star's prior arrest record includes charges of animal cruelty, reckless driving, drug possession, weapons charges and probation violations.
Aside from recording hit songs, often with lyrics rooted in rage and violence, Simmons has starred in such films as the 1998 crime drama "Belly," the 2000 action movie "Romeo Must Die" and the 2003 heist film "Cradle 2 The Grave."
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Phil Berlowitz)