Rapper Ja Rule has left an upstate New York prison after serving most of his two-year sentence for illegal gun possession, but is heading straight into federal custody in a tax case.
US Marshals escorted the 36-year-old out of Mid-State Correctional Facility at 9.30 on Thursday morning. It wasn't immediately clear where he'll serve time in the tax case.
The rapper, who had been in protective custody because of his celebrity, has some time remaining on a 28-month sentence for tax evasion.
His lawyer says Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, may have less than six months left and may be eligible for a halfway house. An order to pay 1.1 million dollars in back taxes is one of the main reasons he wants to get back to work.
Ja Rule, who went to the prison in June 2011, got out at his earliest release date. He had two misbehaviour reports for unauthorised phone calls in February 2012. While inside he worked in the gardens and participated in as education programme.
In the gun case, New York City police said they found a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun in a rear door of Ja Rule's 250,000 dollar luxury car after it was stopped for speeding, and he pleaded guilty in 2010.
He admitted in March 2011 in federal court that he failed to pay taxes on more than 3 million dollars he earned between 2004 and 2006 while he lived in New Jersey.
"I in no way attempted to deceive the government or do anything illegal," he told the judge. "I was a young man who made a lot of money - I'm getting a little choked up - I didn't know how to deal with these finances, and I didn't have people to guide me, so I made mistakes."
Ja Rule is looking forward to his daughter's graduation.