Wesley Snipes Big Day – Sentencing – He Asks For a Slap on the Wrist!

Even as this is being written, Wesley Snipes is likely in court finding out his sentence for his conviction for failure to file income taxes.

The following are excerpts from his defense team:

  • For these misdemeanor convictions, Mr. Snipes respectfully requests that this Court impose a sentence of probation that does not include imprisonment. Such a sentence reasonably provides just punishment, protects the public, promotes respect for the law, affords adequate deterrence and promotes rehabilitation.
  • He is contrite, promises that he will never again break the law, and respectfully asks the Court
    to consider not just the jury verdict but also all the good that he has done in his life.
  • The Court has a mandate in this case to impose a sentence that is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary” and to be just in its punishment, protect the public, deter others, and provide any needed rehabilitation. A prison sentence which I have predicted is what will deter others. Anything less sends a message that Snipes like behavior is acceptable.
  • Imprisoning Mr. Snipes, while his children are at such a critical developmental stage where a father’s love, guidance and nurturance are essential to their development will cause the children irreparable harm. The youngest ones will cry themselves to sleep, not understanding why their father is no longer there to love them. The older ones will internalize the pain and feelings of abandonment, often developing medical problems and doing badly in school. Of all people, I am interested in the effect that incarceration has on families. Yet, when sentenced, I had young children and have found that it is not the responsibility of the court to weigh heavily their sentencing decisions on the effects that one’s behavior has on them when you reap the consequences. If Mr. Snipes was such a family man, he should have obeyed the law and not put his children at risk for his absence.
  • In early 2007, singer/actor Marc Anthony agreed to pay approximately $2.5 million in back taxes owed to the federal and state governments after failing to file returns on nearly $15.5 million in income over a five-year period. No criminal charges were ever brought against him.
  • On October 29, 2005, former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges for failing to file tax returns from 1999 through 2004. Despite having a criminal history, he was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to negotiate a plan to settle his tax debt.
  • On July 18, 2005, Norman Whitfield, the co-writer of such songs as Papa Was a Rolling Stone and I Heard it Through the Grapevine, was sentenced to six months home confinement and ordered to pay a $25,000 fine after pleading guilty to one count of felony tax evasion. He had been charged with five counts of willful failure to file and multiple counts of tax evasion. The government had alleged that he owed $956 thousand in back taxes.
  • Perhaps in one of the most celebrated tax deficiency cases, the Tax Court approved a settlement of a tax debt owed by Willie Nelson, the famed singer. The IRS alleged that Mr. Nelson owed approximately $17 million in back taxes involving deficiencies dating back to 1972. Mr. Nelson settled the debt for $6.5 million.
  • Concluding comments – A sentence of probation with whatever conditions the Court deems just and proper is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary” to impose just punishment on Wesley Snipes.

    As a business ethics and white collar crime speaker, I guess I just learned something. Of all of the reports I’ve done about choices and consequences, it really does seem that the rich and famous get off easier for their inappropriate behavior – as evidenced above. Today, will be a test for the government to see if they can make Snipes an example. Otherwise, he will be another statistic in another defense motion for some other person who feels they, too, should not have to file and pay taxes.

More to come!

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