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Wesley Snipes Released From Prison

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Wesley Snipes Released From Prison
Posted by Wilson Morales

April 5, 2013

Source: Forbes

Wesley Snipes is a free man… mostly. TMZ is reporting that the 50 year old film actor has been released from prison. According to the popular site, Snipes was released on April 2 and transferred to the New York Community Corrections Office. He will be on house arrest thereafter until July 19.

If my math is correct, that means that Snipes served 845 days (remember 2012 was a leap year) of his three year sentence. He was originally slated to be released on July 19, 2013, which means he served nearly 90% of his sentence (I’m going to assume some credit for time served and good behavior).

The Wesley Snipes saga began in 2006 when he was accused of tax fraud. He was originally indicted on charges of attempting to claim nearly $12 million in fraudulent tax refunds and not filing any tax returns for several years. Snipes’ first attorney, Billy Martin, said in a statement at the time, “We believe the evidence in the case will show he has been the victim of unscrupulous tax advice. And this trial will help vindicate him.”

The matter did go to trial in 2008. Despite a lengthy list of potential witnesses, and claims that the defense to the trial could take up to a month, the Snipes defense team rested – after less than an hour – without offering any witnesses. The defense felt pretty confident that the government had not proved its burden, saying: “We could have put on a big show, but we don’t do that. We’re not going to waste the jury’s time.” In contrast, the week before, IRS agent Steward Stich testified that Snipes earned almost $40 million in the years 1999 through 2004 and failed to file tax returns or pay any taxes on that income. He also alleged that Snipes also tried to have almost $12 million in taxes paid in prior years 1996 and 1997 refunded to him.

Snipes pleaded not guilty on all counts. He was eventually acquitted of felony federal tax fraud and conspiracy charges. Snipes was, however, convicted of failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004, which were misdemeanor charges. He faced up to three years in prison for the failure to file and he received the maximum sentence.

Snipes’ co-defendants and financial/tax “advisors”, Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas P. Rosile, were convicted by the same jury of tax fraud and conspiracy. Kahn, a former CPA who is no longer allowed to practice in Florida and Ohio, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Rosile was sentenced to four and half years in prison.

After his conviction, Snipes immediately promised an appeal, which he delivered (more than once) claiming, among other pleadings and filings that his sentence was unreasonable, that his defense was lacking and that he was not able to get a fair trial in “racist” Ocala, Florida, which Snipes had previously referred to as a “hotbed of KKK activity.” He was originally slated to report to prison on June 3, 2008, but that was delayed, pending the outcome of the appeal. His request for a new trial was denied on November 19, 2010, and he subsequently reported to prison on December 9, 2010, at McKean Federal Correctional Institution, in northwest Pennsylvania.

That wasn’t the last of Snipes’ arguments, however. While serving time, Snipes appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 6, 2011, Snipes’ petition for certiorari was denied, which means that the Supreme Court declined to hear the matter. With that, the appeals officially came to an end. Snipes remained in custody until this week.

It’s worth noting that, at the time of the initial allegations, Snipes was filming a movie, “Gallowwalkers” in Namibia. The film, summarized as “[a] cursed gunman (Snipes) whose victims come back from the dead recruits a young warrior to help in the fight against a gang of zombies” was released in the U.K. in 2012 and is scheduled to be released in the U.S. in 2013. No actual release date has been noted (IMDB just says “2013″) and the website for the film remains a blank screen. Likewise, the link to the trailer now says “this video does not exist.” Speculation had been building that the release of the film might just coincide with Snipes’ release.


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