ASSOCIATED PRESS: Wesley Snipes called on famous friends to vouch for him, highlighted his clean criminal record and even wrote the government $5 million in checks — all in an effort to convince a judge that his conviction on tax charges should cost him nothing more than home detention and some public service announcements. None of it worked. The “Blade” actor was ordered to do hard time. Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday for failing to file tax returns, the maximum penalty — and a victory for prosecutors who sought to make an example of the action star.
Snipes’ lawyers had spent much of the day in court offering dozens of letters from family members, friends — even fellow actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington — attesting to his good character. His attorneys recommended he be given home detention and ordered to make public service announcements because his three convictions were all misdemeanors and the actor had no previous criminal record. But U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges said Snipes exhibited a “history of contempt over a period of time” for U.S. tax laws, and granted prosecutors the three-year sentence they requested — one year for each of Snipes’ convictions of willfully failing to file a tax return from 1999-2001.
“In my mind these are serious crimes, albeit misdemeanors,” Hodges said. MORE