Wesley Snipes asks for bail while appeals tax convictions

Wed Nov 24, 2010 4:16pm EST
 
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By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Actor Wesley Snipes is asking a federal judge to allow him to remain free on bail while he pursues a second appeal of his three convictions of willful failure to file income tax returns and his three-year prison term.

U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges on Wednesday ordered prosecutors to respond to Snipes' motion by next Tuesday.

"Mr. Snipes has honored the court's trust before, during trial, as well as pending sentencing and appeal. There is no reason to change the court's judgment now. His ongoing and successful projects in the movie industry further ensure he would not consider fleeing," his lawyers argued in the motion.

Snipes' bail was revoked last week by Hodges, who ordered Snipes to go to prison to begin serving his sentence because Snipes had lost his appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal.

In the new motion for bail, Snipes' lawyers wrote that they are preparing a fresh appeal of his convictions and sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court. They argue Snipes has a legal right to bail while his appeals continue.

In the motion, the lawyers also say Snipes has made headway in resolving his tax problems. At the time of his convictions in 2008, prosecutors said Snipes had earned $38 million since 1999, but had not filed tax returns or paid any federal taxes.

On the day of his sentencing, Snipes lawyers brought to court $5 million in three envelopes which were accepted by agents from the Internal Revenue Service.

"Mr. Snipes has made several substantial payments. His tax filings are now current and he has sought from third parties and turned over to IRS all financial information the agency requested from past years," the motion states.

The deadline for Snipes to file his next appeal -- a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court -- is December 28, although a 60-day extension is possible, according to his motion.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)