April 25, 2008 Edition 1- Daily News
A US federal judge yesterday sentenced Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes to three years in prison for failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004.
Judge William Terrell Hodges laid down the harshest possible sentence against Snipes, after the star of Demolition Man and the Blade trilogy of vampire movies was found guilty by a jury in February on three misdemeanour charges.
According to US attorney Scotland Morris, who argued the government's case, Snipes at present owes more than $20 million dollars (R153.8 million) in back taxes and penalties.
The actor made a five million dollar payment to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) yesterday, but Morris dismissed it as "a fraction of what he owes".
"Snipes's long prison sentence should send a loud and 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," said an official at the US Department of Justice Tax Division, Nathan Hochman.
"The law is very clear: people must pay their taxes," added IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman. "There is no secret formula that eliminates a person's tax obligations, nor are there any special exceptions."
Attorneys for Snipes, 45, vowed to appeal.
"We were hoping for a complete acquittal," Snipes attorney Linda Moreno said. "I have faith in the process, and I have faith in the jury system. We will appeal."
So, I guess there will not be a Blade 4!