Wesley Snipes’ trial on charges that he falsely claimed millions of dollars in tax refunds has been continued to January, giving his new lawyers more time to defend the actor.
The continuance of the Oct. 22 trial date comes after Snipes claimed his previous attorney, William Martin, had failed to represent him properly in the case.
His new attorney, Robert Barnes, said Snipes wanted lawyers with a high success rate in criminal tax cases.
Snipes was charged in October 2006 with fraudulently claiming refunds totaling nearly $12 million in 1996 and 1997 on income taxes already paid.
He was also charged with failing to file returns from 1999 through 2004. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years in prison.
Snipes had asked for the continuance on Oct. 2. But U.S. District Court Judge Wm. Leslie Simmons 10/10/07. Terrell Hodges denied the request because the trial had already been pushed back several times.
The next day, Snipes’ fired his attorney William Martin and filed court papers seeking an extension for his new legal team.
Initially, Hodges denied the request, observing “that all of these events would lead any reasonable person to suspect that the defendant’s dismissal of able counsel was nothing more than a ploy designed to force the continuance of a trial.”
However, Hodges had a change of heart following a hearing with Snipes appealing the decision. The judge found it was “clear” Snipes had issues with Martin and that the “ends of justice served by a continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and defendant in a speedy trial.”