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Wesley Snipes Sentenced To Three Years In Jail For Tax Evasion

A US federal judge has sentenced actor Wesley Snipes to three years in prison for failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2001.

The punishment is the maximum sentence Snipes could face after a federal jury found him guilty on Feb. 1.

Judge William Terrell Hodges gave Snipes the harshest possible sentence he could have received after a jury found him guilty of three misdemeanor charges. According to US Attorney Scotland Morris, who argued the government's case, Snipes currently owes more than 20 million dollars in back taxes and penalties.

The actor made a five million dollar payment to the IRS on Thursday, but Morris said it was "a fraction of what he owes."

"I am very sorry for my mistakes and errors," Snipes told the judge. "This will never happen again."

An official at the US Department of Justice Tax Division said the sentence was a "crystal clear message to all tax defiers that if they engage in similar tax defier conduct, they face joining him and his co-defendants as inmates in prison."

"One of the main purposes which drives selective prosecution in tax cases is deterrence," the judge said, while denying it had anything to do with his sentence. "In some instances, that means those of celebrity stand greater risk of prosecution. But there's nothing unusual about it, nor is there anything unlawful about it. It's the way the system works."

The actor's attorneys have asked Hodges to allow Snipes to be sent to a prison close to his home in New Jersey.

April 25, 2008 |

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