Rock ‘n Roll legend Chuck Berry was sentenced to four months in federal prison today (July 10, 1979), for tax evasion.
The IRS had been investigating Chuck Berry for five years, accusing him of being a chronic tax evader.
The charges stemmed from three separate indictments, all issued in 1973.
One charge was for evading taxes, while the other two were for filing false tax returns.
In total, Chuck Berry was facing 11 years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines.
The IRS accused Chuck Berry of hiding cash from his concerts, and making under the table deals with promoters.
In June of 1979, the legendary singer pleaded guilty to a single charge of evading a total $110,000 in income tax.
At sentencing, Chuck Berry was apparently remorseful, as he reportedly broke down into tears, twice.
In addition to his federal prison time, Chuck Berry was sentenced to four years probation and was forced to do 1,000 hours of community service, in which he performed benefit concerts.
“This tax thing that I was in was no bum rap,” Chuck Berry told music Magazine Goldmine in 1983. “It was straight, true. It was a bum rap in the sense that… It was about 15% that they added, but that’s nothing to kick about. In other words, they were 85% right and 15% wrong.”
Waxfact: Just three days before his sentencing, Chuck Berry had played on the White House lawn for President Jimmy Carter.