Actor Wesley Snipes headed to prison for tax evasion

Fri Nov 19, 2010 4:40pm EST
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MIAMI (Reuters) - Actor Wesley Snipes was ordered on Friday to start serving a three-year prison sentence for failing to file income tax returns by a federal judge who rejected the Hollywood star's bid for a new trial.

"The defendant Snipes had a fair trial ... The time has come for the judgment to be enforced," U.S. District Judge Terrell Hodges said in his ruling.

Revoking bail for the 48-year-old star of the "Blade" trilogy, the judge ordered him to report to prison as directed by the U.S. Marshals Service or Bureau of Prisons.

It was not clear when or where Snipes would begin serving his time behind bars, however. His lawyer, Daniel Meachum, has said he would appeal if a new trial was denied.

Meachum told the Orlando Sentinel the ruling was shocking.

"Wesley is very disappointed but staying strong and positive," the newspaper quoted Meachum as saying.

Snipes had already lost his appeal of the prison sentence stemming from his 2008 conviction in Hodges' Ocala, Florida, court on three counts of "willful failure to file tax returns" for 1999 through 2001.

Snipes was found not guilty of five other counts in the high-profile felony tax case.

In seeking a new trial, Meachum had argued that jurors in the original trial were biased and that the prosecution's star witness had his own criminal problems.   Continued...

<p>Wesley Snipes signs autographs during the red carpet for the premiere of the movie "Brooklyn's Finest" at the 66th Venice Film Festival September 8, 2009. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>