Ja Rule was released from an upstate New York prison yesterday morning (February 21) after serving nearly two years for an illegal gun possession charge. The former Murder Inc. superstar now awaits word from the federal government on when he will begin his 28-month sentence for tax evasion.
The rapper, born Jeffrey Atkins, owed $1.1 million in back taxes and admitted to a federal court that he failed to pay taxes on the more than $3 million he earned from 2004 to 2006.
“I in no way attempted to deceive the government or do anything illegal,” Atkins said in court. “I was a young man who made a lot of money… I didn’t know how to deal with these finances, and I didn’t have people to guide me, so I made mistakes.”
U.S. Marshalls escorted the 36-year-old MC from Oneida County Jail this morning where he was being held in protective custody because of his high profile. He was released on his earliest possible date despite two misbehavior reports filed for unauthorized phone calls made in February 2012.
Atkins pleaded guilty in the gun case in 2010 after New York police found a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun in his car when he was stopped for speeding.
The 2002 Grammy-nominee has plans to return to music after his release from federal prison and may be eligible to be released to a halfway house in less than six months according to his attorney, Stacey Richman. Richman also said that Ja is looking forward to his daughter’s graduation, adding, “he’s a devoted father.”