FAMOUS ROCK STAR FACES 26 YEAR PRISON SENTENCE
A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted singer-songwriter Ronald Isley of five counts of tax evasion and one count of willful failure to file a tax return for concealing millions of dollars of income from the Internal Revenue Service. Isley, who has residences in Los Angeles and St. Louis, was convicted by a jury that deliberated for only three hours. Isley was a key member of the popular rock band The Isley Brothers, and had a career that spanned decades.
During a three-week trial with almost 20 witnesses, federal prosecutors apparently proved to the jury that Isley received millions of dollars in cash and spent his money on a luxurious lifestyle. From 1997 through 2002, the evidence showed, Isley evaded the payment of more than $3 million in federal income taxes.
The Isley Brothers began singing gospel in their hometown of Cincinnati. During the early 50's, the trio were accompanied by their brother Vernon, who died in a car crash during 1957. Ronald, who was born in 1941, beside his songwriting and singing duties also acted as the groups de facto manager.
The group relocated to New York in 1958 and issued a few singles before being signed by the RCA Records production team, Hugo And Luigi. One of their compositions "Shout" was a big hit with audiences during live performances.The song sold well and has since become an R & B standard and covered by several rock artists including the Beatles and Lulu. In the mid-1960s, they discovered a young guitarist in New York City named Jimi Hendrix, who backed them until he moved to Britain.
Their hits included "Shout," "Twist and Shout," "Who's That Lady?" "This Old Heart of Mine," and many others.
In 2004, they were honored with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award, a program sponsored yearly by Black Entertainment Television. Ironically, less than a year later, Ronald Isley found himself the target of a major federal tax evasion investigation.
Prosecutors claim Isley evaded the payment of income taxes in a variety of ways, including depositing and using for his own benefit royalty checks that were issued to other Isley Brothers-related entities and persons, including Okelly Isley, Isley's deceased brother. Isley also required that one-half of the guaranteed fee for each tour date be delivered to him in cash on the date of the performance.
While on tour, Isley paid his musicians and performers in cash, making it difficult to determine how much cash Isley retained from the up-front fee. The balance of the tour performance fees were generally deposited into a bank account in the name of Isley Brothers Music Corporation. The prosecutors argued to the jury that Isley created a vast web of bank accounts and shell companies that he used to conceal his income.
Isley is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson on January 9. At sentencing, Isley faces a maximum possible sentence of 26 years in federal prison. Many Isley Brothers fans believe this case is the tragic end of a noteworthy career spent entertaining millions of music lovers here and abroad. They also question a justice system that lets off a rock star who's a pedophile and an actor who's murderer, yet locks up someone for not paying their taxes.
© 2006 Jim Kouri- All
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Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.
He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores.
Isley is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge Dean D. Pregerson on January 9. At sentencing, Isley faces a maximum possible sentence of 26 years in federal prison.