Wesley Snipes sentenced to 3-year prison term in tax case

Despite letters attesting to his character from friends and fellow actors, including Denzel Washington, and a check to the government for $5 million, his bid for home detention and public service in his tax evasion case fell short when U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges today sentenced action star Wesley Snipes to the maximum 3 years in prison -with one year of supervised release- for failing to file tax returns.

Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes.
Ving Rhames appears alongside Wesley Snipes in 2002’s jailhouse flick, Undisputed. A federal judge has sentenced Snipes to 3 years in prison for tax evasion.

The tough sentence comes in spite of the fact that the three charges Mr. Snipes was found guilty of, failing to file a tax return from 1999-2001, were all misdemeanors and he had no previous criminal record. Prosecutors contend Mr. Snipes hasn’t filed a tax return since 1998 and asked the judge to sentence him to the maximum to set an example. During sentencing Judge Hodges pointed to what he called Mr. Snipes’ “history of contempt over a period of time” as the reason behind his decision.

The “Undisputed” star read a prepared statement and apologized for his actions: “I am an idealistic, naive, passionate, truth-seeking, spiritually motivated artist, unschooled in the science of law and finance,” He also insinuated he was targeted by the government because of his celebrity, “…like flies are attracted to meat.”

Mr. Snipes was acquitted of five additional charges, including felony tax fraud and conspiracy in February. His lawyer plans to appeal the sentence.

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