NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A federal judge postponed Lauryn Hill's tax evasion sentencing on Monday but not before scolding the eight-time Grammy-winning singer for reneging on a promise to make restitution by now.
Hill pleaded guilty last year to not paying federal taxes on $1.8 million earned from 2005 to 2007. At that time, her attorney said she would pay restitution by the time of her sentencing. It was revealed Monday in court that Hill has paid $50,000 of a total of $554,000.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo criticized her for relying on the promise of a recording contract to pay the tax bill.
"This is not someone who stands before the court penniless," Arleo said to Hill's attorney, Nathan Hochman. "This is a criminal matter. Actions speak louder than words, and there has been no effort here to pay these taxes."
The reclusive singer didn't speak during the proceeding and left the court without commenting. Arleo rescheduled the sentencing for May 6.
The total Hill owes is in dispute. Hochman contends it is slightly less than $1 million, counting civil penalties and interest, while the U.S. attorney's office estimates it at a little more than $1 million. Hochman accused the government of trying to pad the amount because once it surpasses $1 million, the sentencing range for Hill under federal guidelines would increase from 24 to 30 months to 30 to 36 months.
Whatever the range is, Hochman said he would seek a probationary sentence for Hill, a 37-year-old South Orange resident who has six children.