Snipes acquitted in tax case

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OCALA, Fla. -- Wesley Snipes was found not guilty of federal tax fraud and conspiracy charges Friday but was convicted on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file a tax return.

Snipes and two co-defendants, a delicensed accountant and a tax protest leader, were indicted in 2006. Snipes faced six additional counts of willful failure to file a tax return from 1999-2004, a period in which he signed two contracts for more than $10 million on sequels in the "Blade" trilogy. He was acquitted on three of those and convicted on the others. He could be sentenced to three years in prison after originally facing a possible 16 years.

Co-defendants Eddie Ray Kahn, the founder of a tax protest group, and Douglas P. Rosile, a delicensed accountant, were convicted by the same jury of tax fraud and conspiracy.

Snipes, who starred in the "Blade" films and "White Men Can't Jump," is among the most famous targets of an IRS criminal investigation, and his prosecution was key for the government. The actor used tax protest arguments long rejected by courts but still continuing to find adherents.

For example, Snipes said the IRS's own code meant no citizen had to pay taxes on income earned in this country, and the agency had no legal authority to collect wages anyway, because it is not a proper government entity.
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