Wesley Snipes' Tax Trial Heads To Jury

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Wesley Snipes' Tax Trial Heads To Jury

Wed Jan 30, 2008 @ 12:43PM PST

Posted by Eriq Gardner

Snipeswesley Wesley Snipes' fate is in the hands of a Florida jury in what the New York Times calls the "most prominent tax prosecution in nearly two decades."

Normally, celebrity trials are snooze-worthy, which explains why Court TV never fulfilled the promise of the OJ Simpson case (the original one). But the Snipes' trial actually sounds riveting, with prosecutors calling the "Blade" and "Demolition Man" star's views on taxes “kooky,” “crazy” and “dead wrong."

Snipes is not accused of merely failing to pay his fair share. Prosecutors say he simply stopped paying taxes and had the gumption of sending the I.R.S. a a 600-page document of reasoned “gibberish” for his failure to do so. Altogether, Snipes owes taxes on more than $58 million of income for the years 1999 through 2004.

Snipes also tried to move the case to a Manhattan court by arguing that central Florida has "a long history of Ku Klux Klan activity," according to the NYT. His defense attorney Robert Barnes says it would take Snipes two decades of work to pay the IRS back. Given Snipes' recent box office performance, that seems like a generous assessment.

Snipes faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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