Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Morrow Orders Death Row Records to Pay Reduced Fine, Back Taxes
By ALLISON LOMAS, Staff Writer
Death Row Records, formerly the record label for rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the late Tupac Shakur, was fined $100,000 and placed on five years probation yesterday for failure to pay 1996 federal taxes.
U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow of the Central District of California also ordered the label, founded by Marion “Suge” Knight, Jr. and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, to pay $100,000 per quarter until all of its outstanding taxes for 1995-2000 are paid.
The record label agreed to plead guilty in December to charges that it willfully failed to pay corporate income taxes on taxable income amounting to $825,716 for the fiscal year ending in Nov. 1996 in violation of 26 U.S.C. Sec. 7203.
Morrow limited the fine to $100,000 after finding that the record label “is not presently able and not likely to be able in the future to pay” even the minimum statutory fine exceeding $650,000. The label’s attorney, David Z. Chesnoff of the Las Vegas firm Goodman, Chesnoff & Keach, said the company could have been fined up to $829,238 under the sentencing guidelines.
The reduced fine, which was deposited into the court’s registry prior to the proceeding, complied with the plea agreement signed by company vice president Marion Knight, Sr. and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Cheng. Under the terms of the plea agreement, finalized on Jan. 7, 2002, the court was not bound to accept the parties’ stipulated sentence.
Since the court did apply the limited fine stipulated in the plea agreement, Morrow noted that under the terms of the agreement Death Row Records waived its right to appeal the sentence.
Following the sentencing, Chesnoff commended “the professionalism” with which the government handled its six-year investigation into the matter.
Marion Knight, Sr., the founder’s father, had no comment after the proceeding. “Suge” Knight was not at the hearing.
Death Row Records was renamed Tha Row Records in 2001 when “Suge” Knight was released from prison after serving five years on charges stemming from a 1992 offense. Knight is the CEO of Tha Row Records.
Knight, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams after playing football at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was acting as Tupac Shakur’s bodyguard and driver on the night Shakur was fatally shot in Las Vegas in 1996.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company