Wesley Snipes is continuing his fight to have his three misdemeanor convictions for not filing federal tax returns overturned. Regardless of the eventual legal ruling, this will be his last shot. He's taking his case, he hopes, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The basis of Snipes' appeal is his claim, in a 49-page petition filed by his attorneys, that he was tried in the wrong place and that prosecutors should have been forced to meet a higher standard of proof on that point. The Constitution’s Bill of Rights says criminal cases must be brought in the judicial district where the alleged offense was committed.
Even before his tax trial began back in 2008, Snipes contended it shouldn't have been held in Florida. The actor's appeals petition contends that Snipes was a resident of New York, New Jersey or California during the tax years that were in question during his trial. The document also says that Snipes had not lived in Florida since childhood and spent almost no time there since.
However, federal prosecutors pointed to Snipes' ownership of a house in Windermere, Fla., and noted that he listed Florida as a residence on various official forms. Snipes also signed a document connected with the "tax protester" movement that he embraced in claiming a homestead exemption as a "citizen of the Republic State of Florida."
Legal experts say there's little chance that the Supreme Court will agree to hear Snipes' appeal. Less than 1 percent of such requests, known as writ of certiorari, are accepted.
So it's likely that Snipes will stay in the minimum security prison in Pennsylvania where he's serving out his three years for not sending the Internal Revenue Service tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001. He was acquitted of more serious felony charges of conspiracy to commit tax fraud.
Of course, Snipes could have saved himself a lot of grief, not to mention court fees, if he'd just hired a good tax advisor in the first place. During his trial, he argued that he simply did what his financial counselors advised.
Sorry, but those "I'm a victim" and "everyone is doing it" excuses rarely work, even for Hollywood stars. And they definitely don't qualify as legitimate reasons to avoid your tax obligations.
So settle in, Wesley. You're probably going to be stuck in the McKean Federal Correctional Institute in Bradford, Pa., until your scheduled July 19, 2013, release date.