Tags: wesley | snipes | tax | evasion

Why Wesley Snipes Got the Maximum

Monday, 28 Apr 2008 10:35 AM

By James Hirsen

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

Wesley Snipes had only been convicted of misdemeanors concerning his failure to file income tax returns.

And the action movie star had submitted written character testimonials from Denzel Washington, Woody Harrelson, and television's Judge Joe Brown to assist him in the judge’s consideration of his sentencing.

Through his attorneys, Snipes asked for probation rather than prison, which is the normal sentence with a conviction of someone without a criminal history. Still, in spite of it all, U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges sentenced Snipes to three years in prison.

Why did this happen?

Well, in February 2008, a federal jury acquitted Snipes of felony tax fraud and conspiracy (which could have placed him in the slammer for more than a decade) but convicted the actor on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file a tax return.

Snipes’ two co-defendants, a defrocked accountant and a tax protest leader, were convicted on the felony counts and may go to jail for 10 years.

Because Snipes is a celebrity, his case has received an enormous amount of publicity. In defense of his actions, he essentially asserted tax protest arguments that have consistently been brushed aside by the courts.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous people sell books, tapes and the like, which end up convincing some people that they don’t have to pay income tax.

Snipes claimed that the tax code did not mandate payment of income taxes by citizens who earned the money in this country. He additionally claimed that the IRS is not a legitimate government entity and therefore had no legal authority to collect taxes.

Jurors found that the actor failed to file for three years.

In the sentencing memo filed by his lawyer, Snipes also asserted that he didn’t have to file returns because he “was a 'stateless person' or 'nonresident alien.'”

The prosecutors’ sentencing memo stated that Snipes' policy was “to send checks received at his business office for deposit offshore.”

In addition, the memo stated that the actor paid approximately “$498,000 in personal payments to Snipes' grandmother, his former wife, his then-fiancee, his personal lawyer, a tax defier organization, and M&S Finance, the Swiss alter-ego to which he fraudulently conveyed his business holdings in 1999,” and that the amount of unreported gross income for the three-year period was “$13 million.”

Snipes exhibited a “history of contempt over a period of time” for U.S. tax laws, the judge said.

You can bet Judge Hodges knew full well that lots of people who maintain similar beliefs to Snipes and his co-defendants were watching the case and would be encouraged not to file and not to pay if Snipes hadn’t been given the max.

James Hirsen is a media analyst, Trinity Law School professor, and teacher of mass media law at Biola University.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Retype Email:
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

Hollywood Uneasy Over Sagging Summer Numbers

Monday, 25 Aug 2014 09:59 AM

Despite some surprising blockbuster hits, the summer box-office numbers still have the movie studios concerned. . . .

Celebrities Fund Midterm Elections for Democrats

Monday, 18 Aug 2014 09:34 AM

Hollywood is one of the primary places on which Democrat candidates rely to garner endorsements, organize fundraisers, a . . .

YouTube Stars Outshine Hollywood

Monday, 11 Aug 2014 10:48 AM

Hollywood can’t help but take notice of the power and creativity that is being displayed on YouTube. . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved