Looks like Lauryn Hill will have to face the music this time around. The "Doo Wop" singer was sentenced to three months in prison during a hearing at a Newark, N.J. federal court on Monday, May 6, despite paying off her long-overdue taxes just ahead of her court appearance.
According to The Associated Press, Hill will not only serve time behind bars, but will also be sentenced to three additional months of home confinement. During the hearing Monday, the singer reportedly reiterated her intentions to pay off her debt, but her statement came too little, too late.
Hill, 37, shelled out more than $970,000 to cover the three years' worth of taxes that she owed in both state and federal taxes, her attorney Nathan Hochman told the Associated Press in an email Monday. The singer still faced up to a year in prison for each of the three tax evasion counts despite meeting the deadline, however.
Earlier this year, the former Fugees member filed papers asking the judge to reexamine her reasons for failing to pay taxes for three years back in 2005. According to Hill's documents, "she withdrew from society at large due to what she perceived as manipulation and very real threats to herself and her family."
The judge was less than sympathetic at an Apr. 22 hearing, however, telling Hochman that Hill was "not someone who stands before the court penniless."
"This is a criminal matter," U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo scolded. "Actions speak louder than words, and there has been no effort here to pay these taxes."
Arleo then postponed the hearing to May 6. At the time, Hill had only paid $50,000 of the total $554,000 that she owed in retribution. When the case was first brought to court in June 2012, Hill and her attorney had argued that the heavy sentence -- a potential three years behind bars -- was only brought up because of Hill's celebrity status.
"There are many people who fail to file their taxes on time who only face civil liability," Hochman told The New Jersey Star-Ledger at the time. "They chose Ms. Hill in particular because of who she was."
To further complete her return to the spotlight, Hill recently revealed that she will be making a comeback to the music scene with her first album since 1998's influential The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
"Yes, I have recently entered into an agreement with Sony Worldwide Entertainment, to launch a new label, on which my new music will be released," she wrote on her Tumblr on Apr. 25. "And yes, I am working on new music."
The singer released a new single, "Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)" on Friday, May 3, telling fans via her Tumblr: "I love being able to reach people directly, but in an ideal scenario, I would not have to rush the release of new music … but the message is still there."