Wesley Snipes Dodges Felony Charges in IRS Case
Still faces prison time, tax liability, endless low-budget action films.
The often bizarre Snipes case, which found the United States government attempting to recover taxes on an estimated $38 million it claims the actor left willfully unpaid, reached a conclusion of sorts on Friday, when jurors in a Florida court declared that although Snipes was guilty of three misdemeanor failure-to-file charges, he hadn't committed the more serious offenses. Though it was only a partial acquittal, Snipes' lawyer, Robert Bernhoft, was quick to declare a victory:
"Our position has been all along that Mr. Snipes committed no fraud. He had no bad intent, and that's what the jury accepted."
The IRS, for its part, quickly reaffirmed its desire to collect the disputed taxes. Victor Lessoff, special agent, told reporters:
"Ultimately, if he really wants to take this all the way, he can go to tax court. But we will pursue, civilly, the taxes. That's very important to us."
According to Bernhoft, Snipes "has always been committed to doing the right thing," and says the star of White Men Can't Jump and Blade will "make whatever amends are required."
Not so lucky were the two men charged along with Snipes, self-styled anti-tax guru Eddie Ray Kahn and former CPA Douglas Rosile. Both were convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges.
Snipes, who now awaits sentencing, still faces up to three years in prison.