Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 16:02 UK

Snipes set for tax case sentence

Wesley Snipes at the 2008 Academy Awards
Wesley Snipes appeared in White Men Can't Jump and the Blade trilogy

Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes could be jailed for up to three years when he is sentenced for tax offences later.

He could also be fined up to $5m (2.5m). Prosecutors have pushed for the maximum penalty because of a "brazen defiance" of US tax laws.

In February, Snipes was found guilty of deliberately failing to file tax returns, but was cleared of more serious fraud and conspiracy charges.

The Blade star has asked for probation instead of imprisonment.

"Wesley Snipes is not a dangerous man who needs to be imprisoned to protect the public," Snipes' lawyer wrote in his sentencing memo.

"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."

'Brazen defiance'

Fellow actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington have sent letters as character witnesses, as have family, friends and employees.

Snipes was convicted of failing to file tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001, during which time prosecutors say he avoided paying millions of dollars.

US Attorney Robert O'Neill has 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.

The actor's first role was in Goldie Hawn's 1986 American football comedy Wildcats, and he has also appeared in hit films such as White Men Can't Jump, Passenger 57 and the Blade trilogy.

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