This was a day that famed actor Wesley Snipes did not want to see. This day was life changing for him. Wesley Snipes will never truly be the same as time in prison will change your perspective. I know. I have been there. And while I write and speak about white collar crime and the consequences of the choices we make, I share no joy in what Snipes will be facing.
But, as I say often, Every choice has a consequence and Snipes made some mighty strong and profound choices that he will now pay the price for. Of course, there were those in attendance who supported Snipes much like there were those who attended my sentencing hearing who spoke kindly about me. The reality is – within the sentencing guidelines, regardless of family, small children, or others who feel that you are a “mighty oak” – you reap what you sow.
Snipes obviously came to his senses almost a year ago when he made an offer to plead guilty to one count of failure to file, pay all the taxes due in exchange for not going to prison. The government said NO! The Justice Department must have felt that the Snipes case was a high profile enough case to pursue. But then, they lost the prize they sought – a conviction for tax fraud – which would have guaranteed Snipes time behind bars (not literally, he’ll likely go to a minimum security facility with no bars). Licking their wounds, the government came back with a sentencing request of 36 months in federal prison. They got that! IRS = WIN.
According to published reports in the Orlando Sentinel:
Snipes was not taken into custody today. He most likely will serve his time at a federal prison near his home in New Jersey.
Snipes made a $5 million payment to the treasury on Thursday, but prosecutors called it a grandstanding move.
“it”ll be a fraction of what he owes,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney M. Scotland Morris, who made the argument for the government.
Morris said a rough estimate of Snipes’ outstanding tax liability, with penalties and interest, will exceed $20 million.
“The law is very clear: people must pay their taxes,” Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman said in a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office just moments after the sentence was handed down.”There is no secret formula that eliminates a person’s tax obligations, nor are there any special exceptions. The majority of Americans pay their taxes timely and accurately. Those who willfully violate the law must be held accountable.”
The IRS must be overjoyed at the message that has been sent to the tax protester movement nationwide. Snipes prison sentence makes it clear that something as simple as failure to file can result in dire consequences. Now I must admit that the sentence for most working people would likely have been less had it not been for Snipes forthright stance on protesting the federal tax system.
Kahn, who refused to defend himself in court, was sentenced to 10 years, (what an idiot) while Rosile received 54 months. Both will serve three years of supervised release. Snipes will serve one year of supervised release.
I have said in past blogs and will say again, I don’t care whether you think it is legal or not. If you don’t comply with the tax laws, the consequences will be less than pleasant. Having spent time in federal prison and knowing people who were there for exactly the same reason as Snipes - each one emerge changed. One thing they do is file and pay their taxes. The cost to Snipes is far greater than he could have ever imagined when he started this foolishness.
- Payment of taxes
- Payment of Interest
- Payment of Penalties
- Payment of Lawyers (to fight a losing battle) and
- Loss of freedom
The loss of freedom alone is enough. Again, I know, I’ve been there and there is nothing – I MEAN NOTHING – worth losing your freedom. When it’s all said and done, it would be interesting to ask Snipes is the short term monetary savings was worth the cost. I think I know the answer.
Your thoughts are welcome!