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Hip-hop star Method Man pleads guilty to NYC tax-evasion charge, has paid $106,000 restitution

NEW YORK (AP) — Hip-hop star Method Man pleaded guilty to a tax-evasion charge Monday, writing a check on the spot for the final $40,000 restitution payment after owing about $106,000.

The former Wu-Tang Clan member was arrested Oct. 9 on charges he failed to pay state and personal income taxes. He pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted failure to pay tax.

He was sentenced to a conditional discharge, which means the arrest will be purged from his record if he stays out of trouble.

"When he found out about the tax issue he hired someone and immediately corrected it," defense attorney Peter Frankel said. "He took care of it quickly like the good member of our community he is."

The musician, actor and artist, who lives on Staten Island and whose real name is Clifford Smith, failed to file tax returns for 2004 through 2007, prosecutors said. The most he owed for one year was $32,799.

Prosecutors said when people cheat on their taxes, other New Yorkers have to foot the cost.

"In these days of massive budget shortfalls and service cuts, tax evasion is a crime against all New Yorkers," Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan said. "Whether you are a celebrity or an average Joe, you will be investigated, arrested and prosecuted."

In 2007, Method Man was arrested on a minor drug charge and was ordered to visit 15 city high schools to warn students about the dangers of drugs.

"He's not your typical rapper," Frankel said. "He's not a troublemaker."

Method Man won a Grammy in 1995 for best rap performance by a group or duo with Mary J. Blige for "I'll Be There For You/You're All That I Need." He also had a recurring role on the critically-acclaimed HBO series "The Wire" and wrote a self-titled graphic novel.

But he's best known as member of the Wu-Tang Clan, whose 1993 album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" is considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums recorded.

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