Soul legend Ron Isley, who faced as much as 26 years behind bars for tax evasion, was sentenced in a Los Angeles court September 1st to three years and one month in the federal pen. He was convicted last year of failing to pay more than $3 million in federal income tax.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Conte said Isley was ordered to pay $3.1 million.
Isley, who sang such hits as “Who’s That Lady” and “This Old Heart of Mine” as a member of the Isley Brothers, was found guilty of five counts of tax evasion and one of willful failure to file a 2002 tax return.
During the September 1st hearing, defense attorney Anthony Alexander argued that the 65-year-old singer should receive probation instead of prison time because of complications from a mild stroke Isley suffered in 2004 and a recent bout with kidney cancer. Alexander also argued for leniency, because his client has been attempting to pay down the IRS debt.
U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson sentenced the soul star to a term called for by federal sentencing guidelines. “The term ‘serial tax avoider’ has been used. I think that’s appropriate,” Pregerson said.
Isley filed for bankruptcy protection in 1997, emerging from it four years later – apparently with the help of cash payments for performances that weren’t reported to the IRS. A former tour manager testified in 2005 that the singer had asked that a portion of his performance fees be paid in “cash money.”
He was also accused of cashing in his deceased brother’s royalty checks, buying cars for his personal use with money from a business account and making under-the-table cash payments to his band members.
Isley was expected to be remanded to a prison hospital facility after sentencing.