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Lauryn Hill pleads guilty

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill pleaded guilty in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, on Friday (June 29) to three counts of failing to file federal income tax returns. Hill, aged 37, a hip hop singer and rapper best known as a former member of the Fugees and for her Grammy-winning 1998 solo album, pleaded guilty to failing to file federal returns between 2005 and 2007, despite earning an income of more than $1.6 million USD primarily from film and recording royalties. Each count carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 (USD) fine. Hill said little in court and left without making a statement. Her sentencing date was set for November 27. Hill's attorney, Nathan Hochman, is hopeful she will receive a just sentence: "We hope that the outcome is a fair outcome based on the facts in this case. We hope that the outcome is the lowest sentence possible which would be a probationary sentence." Hill was released on $150,000 (USD) bail that U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp said included being allowed to leave the country for music tours and a condition she must undergo mental health counseling. Her lawyer Nathan Hochman said Hill has been in family counseling for the past ten years. Hill, who has six children, responded to the charges earlier this month in a lengthy statement, saying she had chosen to "defer" payments during a period of withdrawal from society to protect her family's safety. She gave few specifics in the statement, in which she railed against manipulation by "a media-protected military industrial complex", the commercialization of the music industry and of having her freedom of speech compromised. Hill has not released an album since 2001 and has made only sporadic public appearances in the past six years. But for little more than a year she has stepped up appearances with a series of live performances at smaller venues and festivals. Her next concert is scheduled for July 4th in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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