Final Thoughts on the Snipes Trial

Why was Wesley Snipes found not guilty of tax fraud charges? Was it a repeat of the OJ Simpson case? Is this a huge victory for tax protesters?

It’s interesting that both prosecutors and defense attorneys praised the jury in Ocala, Florida. (One thing is certain: Wesley Snipes won’t be complaining about juries in central Florida anymore.) reported that Robert O’Neill, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, said, “The jury did a very good job.” Consider that the two purveyors of the Section 861 scheme, Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile, guilty of tax fraud. Yes, Snipes was guilty of stupidity (if you believe you don’t have to pay taxes…) and tax evasion (the government clearly proved that he didn’t file tax returns while he was earning income) but was he the purveyor of a tax fraud scheme?

I hadn’t looked at the case in that manner but thinking about it I can see how a jury could decide that Snipes just bought the words of Kahn and Rosile. The verdict is not a repeat of the OJ Simpson case; Snipes was found guilty of three counts of tax evasion and could spend some time at ClubFed. He also faces the possibility of a civil suit by the IRS to recover the taxes. That might not happen, though, because his defense attorney says that Snipes intends to file and pay his taxes.

Is this case a huge win for the tax protester movement? I don’t think so. Yes, the government didn’t get the “famous” person they prosecuted but they did get the two clear members of the tax protester movement who implemented the scheme. The government’s batting average in cases like this is well above .900, and that’s very good. As Robert O’Neill said, “We’re going to continue to go after those people, and I think you will see more indictments of tax protesters. The IRS will go after all of those taxes.”


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