Fat Joe: Guilty of Tax Evasion!

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Rapper Fat Joe pleaded guilty Thursday to failing to pay taxes on nearly $3 million in income he earned over two years for concerts and music royalties.

The artist, whose real name is Joseph Cartagena, was once a chart topper with several hits like the duet "What's Luv" with R&B singer Ashanti.

Fat Joe Photo

Cartagena entered the plea in federal court in Newark because some of the companies he earned money from are incorporated in New Jersey.

The 42-year-old entered pleas to two counts covering years 2007 and 2008.

His sentencing will take into consideration the government's initial allegation that he failed to pay income taxes for years 2007 through 2010.

Federal prosecutors said the total tax loss to the government was $718,038.

Wearing a navy suit in court to plead guilty, Fat Joe looked fit and considerably slimmer than the former size that had earned him his rapper nickname.

He has been public about efforts to shed weight after fellow rap stars died from obesity-related issues and has spoke to kids about health and fitness.

In federal court Thursday, when asked by U.S. Magistrate Cathy Waldor if he understood the charges he was facing, he replied, "I super-understand it."

Cartagena's lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said outside court that his client "had already taken steps to resolve this situation" before he had been charged.

He said the rapper hoped to pay back the taxes by his April 3 sentencing.

The judge set bail at $250,000 and released Cartagena. He could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000, plus penalties from the IRS.

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