Last Friday, a jury acquitted actor Wesley Snipes of all the charges of felony tax fraud. He was however found guilty of three misdemeanor charges of failing to file tax returns and will still have to pay millions to the IRS. The maximum sentence carries up to three years in prison, but he is expected to get a much lighter sentence. Although he was found guilty for the lighter charges his felony tax fraud had carried a maximum of up to sixteen years in prison.
Essentially the jury determined that Snipes had no intention to defraud the government, but the more I thought about this case the more I realized there were probably dozens of other reasons the jury decided to acquit Snipes. Below is a list of the top 10 reasons why Snipes was actually acquitted.
10) Wesley Snipes is an international celebrity, and everyone knows that famous people automatically get one "get out of jail free" card. It is the American way.
9) At his trial, Snipes was frequently attired in a very "Matrix-y" look of a solid black suit, dress shirt, and tie, and sunglasses. The jurors were probably fooled into thinking Snipes was from the future and that the statute of limitations for his crimes had already expired.
8) Snipes said under oath that he did not intend to defraud the government, although he had never paid taxes on tens of millions of dollars he earned. The jury probably just assumed that since he was under oath, he must have been telling the truth.
7) In the Blade films, Snipes played a vampire hunter who devoted his life to saving the lives dozens of innocent people. How could the jury possible be expected to put a Vampire-hunter in prison? What if we come under attack from Transylvania?
6) In 2001 Snipes was nominated for Best Actor in a Network/Cable Movie for his work in HBO’s made for TV movie, "Disappearing Act." Unfortunately he got beat out by T. K. Carter, who famously played Milo Williams in "Good Morning, Miss Bliss" a/k/a "Saved by the Bell, the Junior High Years". The jury probably figured it was punishment enough to go from being an international movie star to losing a network/cable movie award to Milo Williams.
5) Before his trial, Snipes spent a few months in the African country Namibia, the same place Angelina Jolie chose to give birth in. Jurors probably assumed Snipes was doing charity work with Brad and Angelina and therefore felt he deserved a lighter sentence.
4) Over the past few years, IRS has successfully charged numerous high profile individuals for criminal evasion including Edward and Elaine Brown and Richard Hatch. The jury probably just figured since the New England Patriots could not go undefeated, neither should the IRS.
3) In the movie, "White Men Can’t Jump," Snipes’s character famously uttered the phrase, "you can put a cat in an oven, but that don't make it a biscuit." At trial, his attorneys successfully confused the jury by repeatedly citing this phrase when objecting to any evidence the IRS presented of Snipes’s tax fraud.
2) One spectator reportedly filmed the entire trial. Another repeatedly yelled, "Action" and "Cut" at the beginning and end of each session of the trial. This confused the jury into thinking they were in fact cast into a movie – a courtroom drama, starring Wesley Snipes. It probably also helped that the judge in the case looked like actor Tom Wilkinson, and that Snipes’s list of potential witnesses included Sylvester Stallone, Muhammad Ali, Spike Lee, and Tom Brokaw. When the prosecutor failed to get Snipes to say, "You can’t handle the truth," the jury figured they had to acquit.
1) "Blade: Trinity," Snipe’s 2004 episode of the Blade franchise was poorly received by critics and took in substantially less money then the previous films at the box office. Five of Snipe’s latest six movies went directly to DVD and were not released in theaters. Snipes has not had a multi million dollar pay check in nearly five years and it is unlikely Snipes will ever be featured in a large budget film again. It is even more unlikely that Snipes saved enough of his money to fully re-pay his tax liabilities. The jury figured, "hey, why beat a dead horse?"
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