Indictment: Wesley Snipes a $12M tax cheat
POSTED: 4:11 p.m. EDT, October 17, 2006
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TAMPA, Florida (AP) -- Movie actor Wesley Snipes, star of "White Men Can't Jump" and the "Blade" films, was indicted Tuesday on eight counts of tax fraud accusing him of trying to cheat the government of $12 million in false refund claims.
Snipes, 44, also failed to file tax returns for six years, according to an indictment unsealed in Tampa, Florida.
An arrest warrant for the actor has been issued, officials said, adding that his whereabouts are unknown.
Federal prosecutors said that Snipes fraudulently claimed refunds totaling nearly $12 million in 1996 and 1997 on income taxes already paid. (Watch authorities describe Snipes' tactics -- 1:03 )
The indictment also charged him with failure to file returns between 1999 and 2004. (FindLaw.com: Read the indictment)
According to the indictment, Snipes had his taxes prepared by accountants with a history of filing false returns to reap payments for their clients. As part of the deal, the indictment alleges, the firm, American Rights Litigators, would receive 20 percent of refunds from clients.
Snipes faces a maximum of 16 years in prison.
Snipes, who had a home in Windermere, Florida, has not been arrested because authorities don't know where he is, the IRS said.
In 2002, the Justice Department sued a Florida tax preparer who it said filed bogus tax refund claims, including a $7.3 million demand for Snipes.
Snipes was not named as a defendant in that case, but the lawsuit said the preparer's largest claim was an amended income tax return filed on behalf of the actor and dated April 14, 2001. The return requested a $7,360,755 refund for taxes paid in 1997. The return said that Snipes' adjusted gross income was zero, according to the lawsuit.
It said the preparer, Douglas P. Rosile Sr., told clients that only income from foreign sources was subject to taxation. The resolution of that lawsuit could not be immediately determined.
Snipes is the star of the "Blade" trilogy and as well as films such as Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" and "Passenger 57."
In 2005, South Africa refused to admit him after officials said he tried to enter the country with a forged passport.
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