Grammy-winning hip-hop artist Lauryn Hill began a three-month prison sentence this week on tax evasion charges, even though she's already paid back the money she owed.
Hill, who owed approximately $2 million in unpaid taxes, admitted her wrongdoing and dutifully repaid the money in full. Contrast this with the countless Wall Street executives who owe the American people unspeakable amounts of taxpayer money, and who refuse to admit to their crimes of defrauding the United States.
But Hill gets jail time.
The Huffington Post reports that even the U.S. Attorney prosecuting Hill acknowledged her generosity and positive contributions to society:
Hill's attorney had sought probation, arguing that Hill's charitable works, her family circumstances and the fact she paid back the taxes she owed should merit consideration.It must be that executives for the likes of Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have engaged in such massive efforts to combat poverty and help impoverished children that they have been shielded from prosecution out of our government's deep sympathies.
During her sentencing in May in Newark, N.J., Hill described how she failed to pay taxes during a period when she'd dropped out of the music business to protect herself and her children, who now number six. She said the treatment she received while she was in the entertainment business led to her decision to leave it.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moser acknowledged Hill's creative talent and work on behalf of impoverished children.
That must be it.
For those wanting to know what, specifically, the financial institutions listed above (and those executives responsible) have done wrong, I'm at a loss. One need only point to those unethical and shady business practices (subprime mortgages, for example) that led to the financial industry's collapse, and our subsequent bailing out of those banks with billions of taxpayer money.
However, if you'd like specifics, here are a few. This is just the tip of the iceberg:
Has an executive served jail time for any of these? Nope. But Lauryn Hill? Yep.