NEW YORK (AP) _ The founder of the Boys Choir of Harlem was spared a prison sentence for tax evasion Tuesday by a judge who said he was entitled to some leniency after all the breaks he gave children over the years.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones pleased the 54-year-old Walter Turnbull, who had apologized moments earlier for failing to report $55,000 in income on his 1990 tax return.

``Dr. Turnbull isn't just someone who does his job excellently,'' the judge said, sentencing him to one year of probation. ``He goes way beyond that, contributing his own personal money at times to keep the choir going.''

Federal sentencing guidelines had called for Turnbull to spend between 2 and 8 months in prison. Probation employees had recommended home detention.

But the judge cited 35 letters of support for Turnbull. Besides special musical training, the choir for three decades has provided educational and personal counseling each year to hundreds of inner-city children ages 9 to 19.