Rapper Ja Rule is a free man

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Copy of Copy of Ja Rule Release AP In this Feb. 1, 2013, photo provided by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Jeffrey Atkins, also known as the rapper Ja Rule is shown. Photo: New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Platinum-selling rapper Ja Rule left a New York state prison Thursday after serving most of his two-year sentence for illegal gun possession, but he went straight into federal custody in a tax evasion case.

U.S. Marshals escorted the 36-year-old out of Mid-State Correctional Facility. It wasn't immediately clear where he'll serve time in the tax case.

The rapper, who had been in protective custody because of his celebrity, has some time remaining on a 28-month sentence for tax evasion.

His lawyer said Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, may have less than six months left and may be eligible for a halfway house.

An order to pay $1.1 million in back taxes is one reason the rapper wants to get back to work.

Ja Rule scored a Grammy Award nomination in 2002 for the best rap album with “Pain is Love.” He also has appeared in movies, including “The Fast and the Furious” in 2001 and “Scary Movie 3” in 2003.

Ja Rule, who went to the prison in June 2011, got out at his earliest release date, state correction spokeswoman Linda Foglia said. He had two misbehavior reports for unauthorized phone calls in February 2012 and had work assignments on lawn and grounds crews and participated in education programs, she said.

In the gun case, New York City police said they found a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun in a rear door of Ja Rule's $250,000

luxury car after it was stopped for speeding, and he pleaded guilty in 2010.

He admitted in March 2011 in federal court that he failed to pay taxes on more than $3 million he earned between 2004 and 2006 while he lived in New Jersey.

“I in no way attempted to deceive the government or do anything illegal,” he told the judge. “I was a young man who made a lot of money - I'm getting a little choked up - I didn't know how to deal with these finances, and I didn't have people to guide me, so I made mistakes.”

Richman said Ja Rule is looking forward to his daughter's graduation.

“He's a devoted father,” she said. - Sapa-AP


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