Snipes Loses Appeal; ClubFed Is on the Horizon

Remember Wesley Snipes? The actor was convicted of three misdemeanor tax charges but has been free on bail while waiting for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to decide his appeal. Bad news for Mr. Snipes: “After thorough review, we affirm the rulings and judgment of the district court in all respects.”

The Appellate Court decision is available here. There’s nothing humorous in the decision, just a terse shoot-down of all of Mr. Snipes’ arguments. The most interesting part of the decision is the Court noting that misdemeanors can be just as serious as felonies, and it’s the amount of the tax loss that impacts sentencing.

The district court noted that misdemeanants who, like Snipes, had willfully failed to file their personal income tax returns had engaged in similar behavior to the felons who had received similar sentences. The guideline does not create disparity of the kind that would violate 28 U.S.C. § 991(b)(1)(B)…

The district court also did not err in finding that Snipes’s instruction to Baker to refuse to comply with the subpoena and his threat that “if you do contact them, you will have to pay the consequences” constituted obstruction of justice. We have long held that encouraging another person to avoid complying with a grand jury subpoena may be considered to be obstruction…

Although Snipes argues that there were mitigating factors that the judge did not specifically mention at sentencing, these facts — his college education, his family, and his charitable activities — do not compel the conclusion that the sentence crafted in accordance with the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors was substantively unreasonable. The district court acted well within its considerable discretion in sentencing Snipes to thirty-six months in prison.

While Wesley Snipes can attempt to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court, that court rarely hears tax cases, and its even rarer for the Supreme Court to hear a pedestrian case such as this. Realistically, Mr. Snipes will soon have to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for a three-year stay at ClubFed.


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