FORT LEE, N.J. – Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and music producer Mario Winans of Fort Lee admitted Thursday in federal court in Newark that he ducked $434,968 in taxes on more than $2.8 million of income over four years.
Winans, 42, best known for his 2004 song "I Don't Wanna Know," pleaded guilty in U.S. District court to two counts of failing to file tax returns – for 2009 and 2010.
He also admitted doing the same in 2009, 2011 and 2012, which U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said will be taken into account when District Judge Esther Salas sentences Winans on Jan. 24, 2017.
The son of gospel recording artist Vickie Winans, Winans won a Grammy Award for Best Gospel performance. He also received a Grammy for Best Gospel Performance for co-writing CeCe Winans's song "Pray."
Born Mario Mendel Brown, Winans also teamed up with Diddy and his Bad Boy roster, playing drums on "Come with Me" by Diddy and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page (based on the Led Zep song “Kashmir").
Winans also produced songs for Diddy, as well as The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim, Faith Evans, Loon, Black Rob, and 112.
He’s also worked with Destiny's Child, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Tamia, Eminem and Brian McKnight.
Winans ran into trouble in 2015 when he was arrested in Miami on charges of non-payment of child support.
Winans acknowledged on Thursday that he received royalty payments from checks payable to two companies that he controlled, Yellow City LLC and RioWorld LLC, but failed to pay income taxes on nearly $3 million.
Although he likely won’t be sentenced to federal prison, Winans at the very least must repay the IRS, with penalties and interest.
The judge allowed his release on $250,000 bail pending sentencing.
Fishman credited special agents with IRS-Criminal Investigation with the investigation leading to today’s plea, negotiated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Mack, deputy chief of his Healthcare and Government Fraud Unit.