Wesley Snipes: "I Was Never Charged With Tax Evasion"

By Michael Preston
|  Wednesday, Dec 8, 2010  |  Updated 6:00 AM CDT
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NEW YORK - MARCH 02: Actor Wesley Snipes attends the premiere of 'Brooklyn's Finest' at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater on March 2, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

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On the eve of starting his prison sentence, Wesley Snipes would like to make sure that people understand why he's ending up behind bars.

"I was never charged with tax evasion," the Blade star said in an interview on Larry King Live, according to E! Online. "I was convicted of three misdemeanors of willful failure to file a form," Snipes stated to the retiring talk show host two nights before he turns himself over for the start of three-year stint in a federal lockup in Pennsylvania.

"And how is that different from evasion?" King asked.

"Well, I'm not the lawyer, Larry, so I'll let the lawyer explain that a bit further," as he turned things over to his attorney, Daniel R. Meachum.

"Tax evasion is a felony," the lawyer elaborated. "Willful failure to file a form is a misdemeanor. In other words, Larry, I would venture to say, as long as you've been alive, there have probably been some friends of yours who did not file their tax return forms by April the 15th of each year."

Snipes was awarded the maximum of 12 months for each misdemeanor, but was acquitted of the more serious charges of felony conspiracy and fraud.

He maintained that he was in his current predicament in part because of the actions of Kenneth Starr,a former accountant and advisor to the stars who swindled significant amounts of money from Snipes, Al Pacino, Uma Thurman and Martin Scorsese, among others. Starr - who is not related to the former Whitewater prosecutor of the same name - will be sentenced on December 15 after being found guilty of wire fraud, investment advisor fraud and money laundering in September.

"It's been presented as though I am worthy of this kind of punishment, it's been presented that 'he's getting his just due,'" Snipes said. "I've been a law-abiding citizen ever since I grew up in the Bronx, New York...We all have a right to be considered innocent until proven guilty."

When King asked if Snipes felt "singled out," the Passenger 57 star said he felt that "a certain amount of selectivity going on."

"I'm more disappointed that they system seems to not be working for me in this situation," Snipes said.

Selected Reading: E!, Forbes, CNN

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