DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — A hip-hop mogul who originally signed Drake agreed to pay nearly $1 million in restitution after pleading guilty to stiffing Uncle Sam for three years of income taxes.
Derrick Lawrence, whose label Aspire Music Group once included such big names as Drake and Lil Wayne, confessed in Brooklyn Federal Court to not paying more than $2 million of personal income tax from 2009 to 2011.
Lawrence said he gave his taxes to an accountant for those years, but ultimately took full responsibility in court Tuesday.
“I hired an accountant to do it, and I didn’t follow up, and it was my responsibility, but I was traveling,” he said. “I failed to pay my taxes, which I left in other people’s hands, which I realize was my responsibility.”
Lawrence made $591,612 in 2009, $652,174 in 2010 and $1,032,423 in 2011, but never paid income tax on any of it, according to prosecutors.
“I intend to rectify, and I intend to pay the consequences for my actions,” he said.
Lawrence walked out of court on Tuesday free on $150,000 bond, and Judge Peggy Kuo, with the agreement of prosecutors, agreed to allow the executive to keep his passport and travel for work.
He will be able to travel domestically as long as he notifies pretrial services of his location — he owns homes in Brooklyn and Florida — and may leave the country as long as he gets prior approval, which prosecutor Brendan King said was OK.
“Because of his business, he needs to be able to travel which is fine,” King said. “If he had wanted to flee he would have by now.”
Lawrence declined to comment as he left court and wouldn't say whether he still works with Drake, but his lawyer, Stacey Richmond, said he still has plenty of business.
“He manages a lot of people,” she said. “He’s very responsible."
Lawrence faces up to three years in prison at his sentencing and will be forced to pay the government back $750,000.