Page last updated at 07:06 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 08:06 UK

Snipes 'should serve three years'

Wesley Snipes
Snipes starred in films such as Blade, Passenger 57 and Demolition Man

Film star Wesley Snipes should spend three years in prison and be fined $5m (2.5m) for tax evasion, US prosecutors have said.

The actor was found guilty in February of failing to submit tax returns, although he was cleared of more serious charges, including fraud.

Prosecutors have now recommended that he faced the maximum penalty for a "brazen defiance" of US tax laws.

The Blade star will be sentenced on 24 April. He was not available to comment.

In court papers filed on Monday, US Attorney Robert O'Neill pressed for the maximum penalty because, he said, the case provided a "singular opportunity" to "deter tax crime nationwide".

"For nearly a decade, Snipes has engaged in a campaign of criminal tax conduct, combining brazen defiance with insidious concealment," a US Department of Justice statement said.

'Fraudulent harm'

"Snipes has escaped paying more than $15m (7.6m) in income tax to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and has pursued an intended fraudulent harm to the United States Treasury of more than $41m (20.8m)."

At his trial in January, lawyers for the film star admitted he had been "dead wrong" and should have to pay the money back.

But they denied any crime had been committed, saying Mr Snipes had been open with the government about what he was doing.

"Disagreement with the IRS is not fraud of the IRS, is not deception," argued defence lawyer Robert Barnes.

The actor's first role was in Goldie Hawn's 1986 American football comedy Wildcats, and he later appeared in the video for Michael Jackson's Bad, which was directed by Martin Scorsese.

He also appeared in hit films such as White Men Can't Jump, Passenger 57 and the Blade trilogy.

US court clears Snipes of fraud
01 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Jury is out in Snipes tax trial
30 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Snipes arrested in tax fraud case
08 Dec 06 |  Entertainment
'No extradition move' for Snipes
24 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
Arrest warrant for actor Snipes
18 Oct 06 |  Entertainment

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