Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
1/10/2005 9:40:07 PM
Ronald Isley, a founding member of the legendary Isley Brothers, pleaded innocent Monday to tax evasion charges.
Specifically, the feds claim he failed to report performance and royalty income to the agency.
The 63-year-old was indicted in October on five counts of tax evasion covering the years from 1997 to 2002 and one count of failing to file an income tax return.
The IRS contends that Isley was involved in a host of deceptive practices relating to his finances during that five-year period, among them, a royalty check scheme where Isley deposited checks for his own use that had been issued to other members of the band, including his dead brother, O'Kelly.
The agency also claims Isley bought personal cars using a business account and paid band members in cash to keep the transactions off the books.
Isley plans to fight the allegations when the scheduled trial begins March 8 before U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson.
If things don't go the way Isley hopes, the singer could be sentenced to over 20 years in federal prison.
Isley, who suffered a minor stroke in July, remains best known for his smooth vocals that have graced Isley Brothers hits for the better part of 40 years. The group got its start in 1951 and struck it big with the 1959 single "Shout."
The Isleys scored hits in the 1960s with a 1962 cover of the Top Notes' "Twist and Shout," the 1965 Motown classic "This Old Heart of Mine" and 1969's "It's Your Thing" before having their greatest success in the 1970s. The band helped define the R&B/funk groove of the era with hits like "Who's That Lady" and "Fight the Power (Part 1)" before moving toward a more disco sound as the decade ended.
In 2003, the Isleys topped the charts with Body Kiss and, later that year, Ron Isley collaborated with Burt Bacharach (news) on the album Here I Am. An Isley Brothers remix album, Taken to the Next Phase, dropped last August.
The group signed a deal with Def Soul Classics last May. Their first studio release for the label is expected this year.
According to MTV News, the record may feature some big R&B, hip-hop and rap stars including R. Kelly, Dr. Dre and Nelly.