Actor and convicted tax avoider Wesley Snipes is headed to jail to begin his three-year prison stint tomorrow, finally bringing to an end several years of dragging out the inevitable with appeals and denial manifested as martial-arts comedies. Snipes and his attorney appeared on Larry King Live last night to clear up a few things, namely that his sentence was not for a felony count of tax evasion, but rather the combination of three 12-month maximum sentences for each of his misdemeanor counts of willfully failing to file a tax form. Got it?
Furthermore, he said, “It has been framed that I was a conspirator and that I was an architect in a scheme by an organization that has been characterized as tax protesters,” owing perhaps to the championing of his cause by the Libertarian party (you dudes just made things worse!), which is a theory we don’t really recall coming up. We just know that Snipes didn’t pay taxes for three years and then spent another three years avoiding taking responsibility for it by calling for endless new trials and pretending like everything would go away as soon as the next Blade came out, but okay.
The point is Snipes doesn’t say “evasion;” he says “avoision”—or not technically speaking, but according to Snipes, he never willfully skipped paying taxes, but rather relied on his team of accountants and financial advisers to look after his interests, and they simply failed to file on time. And now he’s been handed what he feels to be a disproportionate sentence that proves “the system seems to not be working for me in this situation” and that there was “a certain amount of selectivity going on here.”
Which is somewhat convincing, considering Charlie Rangel was busted for doing pretty much the same thing for a quarter-century, and he simply lost his job and got a stern talking-to—and Rangel was the guy in charge of taxes. Somewhat less convincing: Snipes’ argument that the jury was biased against him by mistaking him for his character in New Jack City, which is certainly a generous estimation of how many people on your average jury would even remember that movie. Perhaps it’s why Chris Rock’s movie career never really took off, because everyone still believes he’s a crack addict.
Anyway, despite admitting that he’s “nervous” about heading to jail, Snipes is still holding out hope for a last-minute save, saying, “We still have prayers out there, Larry. We still believe in miracles. Don't send me up the river just yet.” One of those “miracles” may involve his possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but we wouldn’t count on it. Basically, if you ever want to see Master Daddy, you’ll need to pray extra hard tonight.
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