American rapper Fat Joe appeared in a New Jersey courtroom yesterday (Dec. 20) and pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Records show that Joe, real name Joseph Cartagena owes about $700,000 for unpaid taxes dating back to 2007 and 2008. Fat Joe has had a couple of legal issues in the past. On September 8, 1998, Fat Joe and Big Pun were arrested on assault charges for hitting a man with a baseball bat and stealing the man’s gold chain on June 14 that year.
Joe was arrested again on May 12, 2002 for allegedly fighting with another man at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Times Square, but the charges were dropped on January 10, 2003. In two murder cases, Fat Joe has been named a witness:
Joe’s former bodyguard, Jose Mulero (also known as Sing Sing), was arrested on September 17, 2004 for the April 15, 1994 shooting death of 16-year-old Ernesto Rivera at a Bronx nightclub. Responding to a subpoena, Fat Joe claimed to have heard the shooting and seen people fleeing the scene, but investigators argued that he was standing closer to Mulero, by a door.
Miami Beach police also named Fat Joe as a witness in a Memorial Day double homicide outside David’s Cafe II in South Beach. Jermaine Wufgang Chamberline of Miami Gardens was accused of shooting Lessli Paz and Joey Navarro to death on that morning; Fat Joe and the two victims were sitting in a rented Cadillac Escalade parked outside the restaurant when a fight broke out between passengers and another man. he 42-year-old rapper was freed on $250,000 bail but faces up to two years in prison. He appears next in court for sentencing in April.