A federal judge has ordered actor Wesley Snipes to begin serving his three-year prison sentence on tax charges.
Snipes was convicted in February 2008 of three misdemeanor charges of failing to file his federal income tax returns for 1999, 2000 and 2001, but was acquitted of felony charges (see Snipes Sentenced to Three Years for Tax Charges). His attorneys appealed and asked for a new trial, arguing that the case should have been tried in New York, where Snipes lived, instead of Ocala, Fla. He remained free on bail pending the outcome of his appeal. However, an appeals court upheld the conviction in July (see Appeals Court Upholds Wesley Snipes Tax Conviction).
The actor’s attorneys then asked for a retrial, claiming “jury misconduct” after they received e-mails from two jurors who claimed that three other jurors told them during deliberations they had already made up their minds to convict the actor before his trial.
However, on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge William Terrell Hodges ruled that jurors were prohibited from testifying or offering an affidavit “about any matter that occurred during deliberations except for extraneous prejudicial information, outside influence, or a mistake in entering the verdict onto the verdict form.”
He ordered Snipes to begin serving his sentence. “The Defendant, Wesley Trent Snipes, is ordered and directed to surrender himself for execution of sentence upon receipt of notice from the United States Marshal or the Bureau of Prisons as to where, when and to whom he should report for that purpose,” he wrote.
Despite Snipes’ claim that he was tried before a prejudiced jury, the judge said the “Blade” actor had a fair trial. “The Defendant Snipes had a fair trial; he has had a full, fair, and thorough review of his conviction and sentence by the Court of Appeals; and he has had a full, fair, and thorough review of his present claims, during all of which he has remained at liberty. The time has come for the judgment to be enforced.”
Snipes was taken into custody over the weekend, TMZ reported, and was listed as “in transit” to a federal prison.