Friday, April 25, 2008

Wesley Snipes sentenced to three years in jail

LOS ANGELES - Actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced Thursday to three years in jail for tax fraud, CNN reported. The Florida judge supported demands by the prosecution for three years - the highest possible sentence under the law. Snipes was charged with failing to file taxes for six years, but the jury only found evidence for a three-year period.

The total sum earned in that period was $13 million.

Snipes, of “Blade”, “Demolition Man” and “White Men Can’t Jump” fame, kept a poker face as the sentence in the Florida courtroom was announced, eyewitnesses reported. Snipes’ non-payment of taxes was a protest against taxes, based on his belief that the Internal Revenue Service was not a properly established government agency, ABC news reported. He has insisted he was not subject to paying taxes because he was a “stateless person” and a “non-taxpayer”.

Earlier this month, US Attorney Robert O’Neill of Florida admitted that he wanted to make an example of Snipes after his years of “brazen defiance” of tax laws aimed at cheating the government out of $41 million. “This case cries out for the statutory maximum term of imprisonment, as well as a substantial fine, because of the seriousness of defendant Snipes’ crimes and because of the singular opportunity this case presents to deter tax crime nationwide,” O’Neill wrote.

Snipes was convicted in February on three misdemeanor counts of wilfully failing to file federal tax returns for 1999-2001. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison. He was acquitted on two felony charges of filing false claims and fraud in seeking millions of dollars of refunds in other tax years.

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