Snipes "kooky" mail to govt not a crime: lawyer

Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:34pm EST
 
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By Barbara Liston

OCALA, Florida (Reuters) - Rather than file tax returns on an estimated $38 million in income, actor Wesley Snipes flooded the U.S. tax agency with correspondence that his lawyer admitted on Tuesday was sometimes "kooky, crazy and loony."

"Kooky, crazy and loony is not a crime," the lawyer, Robert Barnes, said in closing arguments at Snipes' trial on tax fraud charges. "This is a case that should have been in civil court."

Prosecutors argued the star of the "Blade" movie series hooked up with known tax protesters and then ignored warnings from Internal Revenue Service agents and his longtime tax adviser that he must file returns and pay taxes.

"He knew it was required. He just didn't want to do it," prosecutor Scot Morris told the jury.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations on Wednesday on charges that Snipes conspired with IRS foe Eddie Kahn and accountant Douglas Rosile to defraud the government.

Snipes faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted of all charges -- six counts of failing to file tax returns, two of fraudulently claiming tax refunds and one of conspiracy to defraud the government.

Prosecutor Robert O'Neill told Reuters outside the court Snipes "paid no taxes" on what the government said was $38 million in income from the 1999 through 2004, a period when Snipes signed contracts on two "Blade" movies worth at least $10 million each.

Snipes' lawyers have said some taxes were withheld from his pay.   Continued...

 
<p>Wesley Snipes clasps his hands together as he arrives at the U.S. Federal Court to stand trial for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and filing a false claim for a $7 million refund, in Ocala, Florida, January 14, 2008. Rather than file tax returns on an estimated $38 million in income, Snipes flooded the U.S. tax agency with correspondence that his lawyer admitted on Tuesday was sometimes "kooky, crazy and loony." REUTERS/Scott Audette</p>