Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rapper 'Fat Joe' Gets4 Months in Tax Case

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Rapper 'Fat Joe' Gets4 Months in Tax Case

Article excerpt

Rap star "Fat Joe" was sentenced Monday to four months in federal prison for failing to pay more than $718,000 in income taxes, the latest in a recent series of hip-hop's elite to be brought down by Uncle Sam.

The platinum-selling artist and Tenafly resident - whose real name is Joseph Anthony Cartagena -- faced as much as 24 months in prison. He was given a more lenient sentence because of his extensive record of public service, including his donation of a computer lab to his former elementary school in the Bronx.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor denied Cartagena's request to waive the prison sentence altogether, saying it would send the wrong message to thousands of fans who work hard, pay their taxes and depend on government services.

"Mr. Cartagena, you are a role model to many," she said. "And that, sir, is both your sword and your shield."

Cartagena, who wore a navy blue suit to the hearing in Newark, has notably lost much of the physical bulk that earned him his nickname. He told the judge that he was surprised to find himself in his predicament after working most of his life to remove his family from the drugs and violence they faced in his childhood neighborhood, an environment he attributed to his father's early death and his brother's struggles with drug addiction.

"This is the last place that I thought I would be," he said, eliciting a sob from a woman in the packed courtroom, Randi Kalimi, who later described herself as a mother figure to Cartagena.

"I just don't picture him in a place with murderers and rapists, and taking him off the street, where he has helped so many people," Kalimi said later.

Cartagena, 42, a father of three who also maintains a residence in Miami Beach, failed to file tax returns between 2007 and 2010. He pleaded guilty to charges covering 2007 and 2008, but, under the terms of his plea agreement, all four years were taken into consideration for his sentence.

He has repaid the government since the case was brought, but still owes $1. …

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