Feds Want Snipes' Bail Revoked

With actor's tax evasion upheld on appeal, he should be jailed, feds say

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Jul 22, 2010  |  Updated 12:30 PM CDT
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Celebrity Meltdowns

New Line Cinema

Wesley Snipes is best known for his role as Blade in the Blade trilogy, as well as his legal woes after he was sentenced to three years in prison for failure to file federal income tax returns. His sentence is currently in appeals court while Snipes remains a free man.

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The feds want actor convicted tax cheat Wesley Snipes behind bars immediately.

Federal prosecutors in Florida have asked a judge to revoke the appeal bond of Snipes so he can begin serving a three-year sentence for willfully failing to file federal income tax returns. An appeals court decided Snipes had received a fair trial and sentence.

The motion was filed Wednesday in federal court in Ocala.

Snipes, 47, was granted an appellate bond after a federal appeals court upheld the "Blade" star's sentence. He was originally convicted two years ago of failing to file income tax returns for three years.

The actor has been free on bail while he appealed the convictions for willfully failing to file his federal income taxes from 1999 to 2001. Snipes' lawyer declined to comment. It's unclear when the actor will have to report to prison.

Snipes was sentenced in April 2008 in what was considered a key victory for prosecutors who aggressively pursued the maximum penalty to deter others from trying to obstruct the IRS. They say he made at least $13.8 million for the years in question and owed $2.7 million in back taxes that he refused to pay.

Snipes has apologized, saying that he was an idealistic artist who was "unschooled in the science of law and finance." But, according to court documents, Snipes didn't simply silently refuse to pay the taxes.

He sent "treatises describing theories about why the IRS was powerless to collect income taxes from him and several altered tax forms demanding money for taxes he had rendered in earlier years," according to the ruling. He also invited employees of his film production company to tax resistance seminars at his home, it said.

His own attorneys told him that he was required to file the returns and ultimately terminated him as a client, the ruling said.

His attorneys urged the three-judge panel during oral arguments in November to toss the convictions because they said the case should have been tried in New York. But the court's ruling found "there was no abuse of discretion" in holding the trial in Florida, where prosecutors said Snipes split his time.

Snipes' attorneys in June also unsuccessfully urged the court to allow them a new appeal after a key government witness in Snipes' trial was charged in May with securities fraud worth $59 million. His lawyers said the arrest of Kenneth Starr, a one-time adviser to Snipes and other celebrities, undermined his credibility.

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