Ronald Isley gets 3 years for tax evasion


Soul legend Ronald Isley, who sang such hits as “Twist and Shout” and “This Old Heart of Mine” as a member of the Isley Brothers, was sentenced on Friday to three years in federal prison for tax evasion.

Isley, 65, was also ordered to pay about $3.1 million to the Internal Revenue Service, having engaged in “pervasive, long-term, pathological” evasion of federal taxes, according to U.S. District Court Judge Dean Pregerson.

The sentences were handed down after Isley was convicted last October of five counts of tax evasion and one count of willful failure to file a tax return. During the three-week trial, prosecutors said Isley failed to make any voluntary payments to the IRS between 1976 and 1996.

They also said he spent millions of dollars of unreported cash payments for performances on a yacht and two homes, and cashed royalty checks belonging to his late brother, O’Kelly, who died of a heart attack in 1986.

Isley’s lawyer said on Friday his client had been selling his assets to pay down his IRS debt. He had sought probation for Isley, citing his client’s medical condition, which includes the effects of a stroke and a recent bout with kidney cancer.

But Pregerson declined to sentence Isley to less time than called for under federal sentencing guidelines, agreeing with a description of Isley as a “serial tax avoider.”

The Isley Brothers — Rudolph, Ronald and O’Kelly — started singing together as teens in the 1950s in their native Cincinnati. Their early hits included “Shout,” which has become a frequently-covered rock tune, “Twist and Shout,” which was notably covered by the Beatles, and the Motown tune “This Old Heart of Mine.”

They won a Grammy in 1970 for “It’s Your Thing,” the biggest hit of their career. The success continued through the 1970s even as the lineup expanded with additional family members and other performers. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

In recent years, Isley has recorded with the likes of pop songwriter Burt Bacharach and R&B star R. Kelly. He and younger brother Ernie topped the U.S. album charts in 2003 with “Body Kiss.”

Their most recent album, “Baby Makin’ Music,” came out in May, coinciding with the announcement that Ronald Isley and new wife Kandy were expecting a baby in January 2007.

Credit: Reuters

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