Snipes jailed for three years for tax evasion
Published Apr 25 2008, 09:46 BST | By Beth Hilton Wesley Snipes
has been sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion.
The action star was given the maximum sentence at the court in Ocala, Florida after prosecutors described him as a “truly notorious offender".
He was acquitted of fraud in February but convicted on three misdemeanour counts of willfully failing to file federal tax returns from 1999 to 2001.
Prosecutors said he had escaped paying more than $15 million in income tax to the IRS since 1999.
His lawyers read out character references from family members and friends, including actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington. Snipes also surprised the court by handing over more than $5 million in cheques, which prosecutors branded a "grandstanding move".
His attorneys recommended that he be given probation, saying he was not a dangerous man and had led an otherwise "lawful life".
However, US District Judge William Terrell Hodges said it was important to create a deterrent against tax defiance, accusing Snipes of exhibiting a "history of contempt over a period of time" for US laws.
Snipes told the judge: "I am very sorry for my mistakes and errors. This will never happen again."
He was told that he would be contacted at a later date and informed when his sentence would begin.