February 1, 2008
Snipes Not Guilty of Fraud & Conspiracy Charges; Guilty of 3 Misdemeanors
The press (here, here, here, and here) is reporting that Wesley Snipes has been found guilty of three misdemeanors and not guilty of the charges that carried more severe penalties. Unlike his co-defendants, Snipes was acquitted of the conspiracy charge that he faced.
The indictment against Snipes had charged him with conspiracy under section 371, and if convicted this charge could have produced a hefty sentence for the actor. In addition to being found not guilty on this charge, Snipes was also acquitted of count two which charged him with a fraud related offense under 18 U.S.C. 287. Finally, the government was only successful on half of the tax charges brought against Snipes, in that he was acquitted of three of the years charged under 26 U.S.C. 7203.
The minor convictions for Snipes and major ones for his co-defendants sends the message that one cannot claim ignorance if they follow a promoter of a tax scheme. But more importantly, those who promote such conduct can be charged and convicted of crimes such as conspiracy.
The numerous acquittals in the Snipes case should be making the government wonder whether it was worth the time, cost, and effort to proceed criminally against him, and whether civil penalties may have been more appropriate.
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Ellen: Also worth noting is that Snipes was convicted only on counts where venue was much contested, both legally and factually. Was he really a legal resident, for tax-filing purposes, of the Florida town where he went to high school, while living for years in NYC and LA as a movie star? If not, the counts of conviction are precisely those most vulnerable on appeal.
Posted by: Peter G | Feb 1, 2008 6:14:52 PM
Having spent time in federal prison for tax evasion, I have watched the trial carefully. Snipes used the 861 arguement to avoid paying and filing. While he was aquited of fraud, he is guilty and now will face the choice of paying or continuing his protest (which I doubt he’ll do). For more information on Snipes 861 argument visit http://chuckgallagher.wordpress.com/ and see the February 3rd entry.
Posted by: Chuck Gallagher | Feb 3, 2008 2:40:42 PM
It is my understanding that the 16th Amendment was never radified. Meaning, there is a question as to the Government's right to collect income tax. Given that, it is the biggest scam ever dumped on the American public. How has the Government gotten away with the establishment of the IRS and ensuing criminalization of American citizens who refuse to not pay taxes?
Posted by: Nikki Henry | Apr 26, 2008 4:15:11 AM