YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Three sons of the founders of Sugar Hill Records today admitted in U.S. District Court in Newark that they failed to file federal tax returns for several years, costing the government nearly $1.3 million they should have paid on royalties from recordings by, among others, the Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and the Treacherous Three.
All three — Joseph Robinson Jr., 50, of Tenafly, 46-year-old Leland Robinson and Rhondo Robinson, 41, both of Englewood — pleaded guilty to federal complaints charging them with ducking federal income taxes from 2005 through 2008.
The brothers were copyright administrators for the Englewood-based music label created by their parents in 1979. Sugar Hill rode high through 1986, with a slew of hits, from “Rapper’s Delight” to “The Message.”
Sugar Hill was responsible for the first hip hop crossover hit, 1979’s “Rapper’s Delight,” with its bass rip snatched from Chic’s big hit “Good Times.” For several years, the brothers were knee-deep in a battle with the Sugarhill Gang over rights to the band’s name.
Just this month, a film about how Sylvia and Joe Robinson and the trio defrauded the group was released. In it, band members talk of how Joe Robinson Jr. took Master Gee’s stage name and used it in performance.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk set sentencing for July 10.
As part of their plea agreements, each has agreed “to file true and accurate tax returns and to pay to the IRS all taxes and penalties owed,” U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said.
Still, they could be sent to federal prison for several months, under sentencing guidelines.
Fishman credited special agents with IRS-Criminal Investigation that led to the case, presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Mack of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division.