The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wesley Snipes gets three years

Well, crap. This really sucks big time. The following link connects you to a page of character references. Scroll down.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/community/news/southofdowntown
/orl-snipes-references-pdfs-mg,0,3599195.gallery

12 comments:

Pagan Topologist said...

That really is too bad.

asha vere said...

He didn't pay his taxes. He should've (a) known he wouldn't get away with it and (b) had an inkling that the the IRS might choose to make an example of him because of his celebrity.

I'm sad for him and his family, but it really is his own fault.

Anonymous said...

Should we excuse pedophile priests who do good works for the community because other than being pedophiles they are really good people. If you commit a crime it doesn't matter how many other good things you have done your guilty and deserve punishment. The question of whether the punishment was excessive is another issue. The same question could be asked concerning Martha Stewart. There are arguments on both sides. Certainly a celebrity such Snipes could be considered as a role model for others and there is validity to the argument that as such he bears a greater responsibility and should be punished more severely.

Marty S

Steve Perry said...

I'm sorry to hear it. I dunno how much race figures into it -- they did stick the Queen of Mean in the can, "Only the little people pay taxes." so I'm thinking the main color problem here is green. Wesley had a lot of it, and he didn't want to share any of it with Uncle.

Spitting in the Fed's eye is a risky business.

If he'd been somebody whose accountant was cutting corners and not bothering to tell him, I expect the Fed would have cut a deal and gone for the money. Or somebody who owed money and acknowledged it, but just didn't have it, ala Willie Nelson, who owed only a little less than Wesley

Willie had to work for years to pay his bill.

But since Wesley knew exactly what he was doing, and since all those organizations that say you don't have to play taxes are a thorn in the Fed's side, they took advantage of a chance to nail a high-profile non-payer. Next time an accountant in Butt Cut, Idaho, tells a potential client "You don't have to pay taxes, the law is on your side!" the would-be client might remember that a multimillionaire movie star thought the same thing and was proven wrong. That would be my guess as to why they went after him.

Exquisitely Black said...

I just did a post on this on my blog. It's actually more about the American prison system. I really question the usefulness of a prison sentence in the case of tax evasion.

I don't think he or anyone else should get away with anything. He should have to pay the taxes, fines, etc. - but what benefit does it serve to add yet another to the American prison population?

Dan Moran said...

for Wesley, but -- "Play with matches."

~~~

The question of whether the punishment was excessive is another issue. The same question could be asked concerning Martha Stewart. There are arguments on both sides. Certainly a celebrity such Snipes could be considered as a role model for others and there is validity to the argument that as such he bears a greater responsibility and should be punished more severely.

I'm still waiting for Rush Limbaugh to do jail time for his drug pruchases. Isn't it interesting how two of the really high profile celebrity "examples" we've been gifted with in recent years are a woman and black man? I mean, after a decade plus of white male (mostly Republican) business criminals raping the American public, the highest profile "make-an-example-of-them" case are Martha Stewart, and now Wesley Snipes ...

they did stick the Queen of Mean in the can

I don't remember George Bush doing time....

Anonymous said...

"I just did a post on this on my blog. It's actually more about the American prison system. I really question the usefulness of a prison sentence in the case of tax evasion.

"I don't think he or anyone else should get away with anything. He should have to pay the taxes, fines, etc. - but what benefit does it serve to add yet another to the American prison population?"

Right on!

Steve Perry said...

Um, I said "Queen of Mean," not "King of Stupid ..."

As for the not-sticking-somebody-in-jail idea, I agree that too many people are there for things that ought not to be crimes -- smoking dope and prostitution come to mind. But in the end, the threat of jail is what the law comes down to. Power ultimately comes out of the barrel of a gun.

If somebody didn't pay their taxes, would they pay a fine? If they didn't, then what? If you sentenced somebody to community service and they didn't go, how do you resolve that?

Lots of things ought not to be illegal that are. If you know that and you do them anyway, you ought not be surprised if somebody comes looking for you.

Wesley Snipes is, from all reports, an intelligent fellow, and he knew what he was doing when he thumbed his nose at the Feds. I think he believed that if they came after him, he'd lawyer-up and beat them, but it is Baretta's Dictum: If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Every now and then, the powers-that-be have to slap somebody big to show that they can. Martha Stewart went into the Graybar Hotel for something that goes on every day, and it wasn't as if she ripped off millions, the amount was only a drop in her bucket. She was an object lesson -- See, you can be rich but if you piss us off, we'll take you down.

Fight the law, sometimes the law wins.

Anonymous said...

"Every now and then, the powers-that-be have to slap somebody big to show that they can."

Check out the gallery "Tax scandals of the rich and famous," with a wide range of slaps:

http://www.boston.com/business/taxes/gallery/famoustaxfraud/

Michael Canfield said...

Taking away a human being's liberty for 3 years in a case like this just seems draconian to me. Snipes did act foolishly when he chose to align himself with the anti-tax loonies and trust their advice, but did he attempt to HIDE his earnings to defraud the government. No. In fact he has appeared contrite in court and has made restitution and paid a great deal of fines. I'm not saying he should get off free, but seriously, isn't a length of time reporting to a probation officer (I wouldn't want to have to do it) and a lifetime ahead of constant tax scrutiny a valid punishment? The judge has decided that depriving the guy of his freedom and income is just the thing needed. This will also cost the State any taxes they could have collected on income Snipes would have made otherwise in those three years as well as the cost it will incur in keeping him incarcerated. Bad deal all around.

Steve Perry said...

Michael -- those are the points I'd try to make if I were a lawyer and defending Snipes. But the deal is, if you know you might get a ticket if you run the stop sign and you blow through it at speed anyhow, that's was your choice.

If you were on the way to the hospital with your pregnant wife about to deliver, maybe you don't get the citation. If you told the traffic cop that stop signs don't apply to you?

Most defendants are contrite and apologetic when they are up for sentencing, and with good reason: Judges take notice. Snipes didn't have an in-your-face attitude in court, but he did when he chose to run the stop sign.

I'm not saying it's justice, but it is the law, and if you know that, it's a different game.

"My accountant did all that stuff, I didn't know what he was doing." will mitigate things, even though you are still responsible. You get fined, you have to pay the taxes, but you don't go to the Big House.

"I don't believe I have to pay taxes on all those millions I made." That ain't gonna fly.

Ignorance is not a legal excuse, but sometimes it gets taken into account. Willful disobedience of the tax laws -- despite the fact that's how this country got started --that's something else.

Snipes isn't a poor shopkeeper who couldn't pay the tea tax, he's a multimillionaire celebrity. He's the perfect example to keep the middle class would-be resistors in line. Ron Paul isn't running things ...

Paul Gibbons said...

"Snipes did act foolishly when he chose to align himself with the anti-tax loonies and trust their advice, but did he attempt to HIDE his earnings to defraud the government. No."

Is government a religion in this country? Do we just accept a premise just because a bureaucrat or one of their sycophants says so? What would make someone like Mr. Snipes do what he did? Do you really believe it was pure greed? That he really believed that the law required him to pay but he just wanted to keep the money? That he was so ignorant that he accepted the word of an "anti-tax loonie" with no supporting evidence just because it coincided with his self interest? How many of you have actually read any tax law? Do you believe the government never lies? Have you seen Aaron Russo's film 'America; Freedom to Fascism?' Even if you disagree with the premise, I consider it irrational to accuse someone of a 'crime' without bringing up any facts. I have heard no one refute the material facts about the IRS presented in this film. The fact that the USG can prosecute someone does not prove their case. The jury acquitted Wesley on the more serious charges, why did they do that? I invite all of you to examine the spectre of trial by prejudice and opinion rather than proving that an obligation actually exists.