Grammy-winning recording artist Lauryn Hill was sentenced to three months in jail Monday after failing to pay more than $1 million in back taxes over the past decade. At her hearing, Hill, who is black, compared her time in the music industry to slavery.
According to CNN, Hill appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in federal court in Newark, N.J., and was sentenced to three months after failing to file tax returns on approximately $1.8 million owed between 2005 and 2007. Hill is required to report to prison on July 8 as well as pay back all taxes owed plus a $60,000 fine.
At her hearing, Hill pleaded guilty and stated that she intended to pay all of her taxes and fines ordered by the court.
Hill, who rocketed to fame with her 1998 album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” stated in the courtroom stated that her time in the music industry amounted to little more than organized slavery. She cited the relatively small cut she received from her 16 million album sales as proof of this.
In court, Hill argued that executives profited off her image much more than she ever did, and that she always worked hard to provide for her six children.
"Someone did the math, and it came to around $600 million," she said. "And I sit here before you trying to figure out how to pay a tax debt? If that's not like enough to slavery, I don't know. This wasn't a life of jet-setting glamour. This was a life of sacrifice with very little time for myself and my children."
Despite her insistence that she was tricked out of her own money and has several children to provide for, Hill was ultimately sentenced to three months in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moser, who prosecuted Hill, told the Associated Press that Hill’s arguments were nothing more than "a parade of excuses centering around her feeling put upon" that don't exempt her from her responsibilities.
Hill’s lawyer Nate Hochman feels differently, and told CNN that she was being made an example.
"I think the government has let a number of celebrities off and never criminally prosecuted them, Willie Nelson being at least one example," he said. "I think that the court took that into account as well. Ms. Hill did not get a slap on the wrist and let off with just paying a certain amount of money but has had to go through this entire criminal prosecution."
Once Hill is released from prison, she will be under house arrest for three additional months, followed by nine more months of parole supervision, according to the Associated Press.