Snipes Sentenced for Tax Evasion
It's official... he's no longer a free man.
Movie star Wesley Snipes received his punishment for tax evasion today in the Ocala Federal Courthouse.
Government prosecutors say snipes hasn't paid taxes since 1998.
After a day-long hearing... Snipes received the maximum sentence on his misdemeanor convictions.
Snipes was seated as he heard the judge's sentence. He didn't show any emotions. Family members responded with a gasp... his wife put her head down and wept quietly.
Even with the support of his fans and character witnesses... Snipes received no leniency. Thirty-six months in a federal prison and one year of supervised release.
Celebrity Judge Joe Brown was on hand to give a character witness statement on Snipes.
"He's a very intelligent person but people in this industry are a bit naÃ¯ve...and a bit too trusting of people who might otherwise use them for their own agenda that's not a good agenda."
Snipes walked a fine line here at the federal courthouse today now his attorney's argued that he receive probation instead of jail time...the judge of course...didn't see it that way.
Prosecuting attorney Robert O'neill feels U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges gave a just sentence.
"I think the court did a very good job of insuring that it was a proper and just sentence. clearly i think 3 years of prison for anybody is a long period of time so i think the judge did a very good job."
Snipes supporters...have their own opinion. Alexander Phillip says it's ridiculous to send Snipes to prison for not paying his taxes.
"If he has to pay...charge him and let him pay. I don't see any sense in locking him up behind bars."
We want all americans to pay their taxes if you have a dispute with the IRS go to the IRS and argue it. That's the American way but to continue to just not file and not pay your taxes...you just can't do that in america."
Snipes' attorney says they will appeal. His co-defendants have already been sentenced to even longer stretches behind bars.
Judge Hodges sent a clear message today...bottom line if you owe the IRS... they will come after you... celebrity or not.
Shani Muhammad WCJB TV 20 NEWS.