Wesley Snipes still hopes to avoid jail

Tue Dec 7, 2010 10:59pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Wesley Snipes said on Tuesday he was upset about going to prison but still hopes to avoid jail time on tax-related convictions as his lawyer seeks a U.S. Supreme Court review of Snipes' case.

Appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live," Snipes' attorney, Daniel R. Meachum, pointed out what he believes are irregularities in the case against the star of the "Blade" action movies, and said he plans to file legal documents with the Supreme Court seeking a review of the case.

Snipes, 48, was convicted in 2008 in an Ocala, Florida court for willful failure to file tax returns from 1999 through 2001. Each of the misdemeanor counts carried a maximum one-year prison term. Snipes was found not guilty on five other counts.

Meachum also said he has appealed a Florida judge's denial of a new trial and the judge's failure to interview a juror who has come forth with claims that Snipes was convicted despite reservations by some members of the jury.

Absent any new rulings, Snipes is expected to surrender to federal officials on Thursday and begin a three-year term in a Pennsylvania prison.

"Any man would be nervous if his liberty was at stake," Snipes told King when asked about going to jail. "Right now, I'm more upset and disappointed that the system seems to not be working for me."

But Snipes held out hope that he might avoid time in prison. "We still have prayers out there, Larry, and we believe in miracles. Don't send me up the river, yet," he said.

Among claims made by Snipes and his attorney were that the jury was predisposed to convict him before the trial started and that because a key witness is an alleged felon he is untrustworthy in proving Snipes intended to break the law.

Snipes also singled out the media for what he said was misreporting the facts in the case.

"It's been presented as though I'm worthy of this kind of punishment (but) I've been a law abiding citizen ever since I grew up in the Bronx in New York," Snipes said.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Chris Wilson)

<p>Wesley Snipes attends the "Brooklyn's Finest" premiere at the Palazzo del Cinema during the 66th Venice Film Festival September 8, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>