Actor Wesley Snipes, known for his roles in White Men Can't Jump and Blade, has been taken into custody by federal authorities to begin serving three years in prison for failing to file income tax returns, according to TMZ.
U.S. District Judge Terrell Hodges rejected the movie star's request for a new trial, saying Snipes had a fair trial. On Friday, Hodges ordered him to report to prison as directed by the U.S. Marshals Service or Bureau of Prisons, Reuters reported.
Snipes's lawyer Daniel Meachum was reported to have told the Orlando Sentinel the ruling was shocking. "Wesley is very disappointed but staying strong and positive", Meachum said.
In denying the request for a new trial, ABC News reported that Hodges noted",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."
The 48-year-old was convicted two years ago of failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004 and failing to pay taxes on $38 million in income. He was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay a $5 million fine. The judge allowed Snipes to be free on bail while the actor continued to work on a movie that already had begun filming.
Snipes asked for a new trial when his former financial advisor Kenneth Starr was arrested on securities fraud charges, arguing that Starr had been a key prosecution witness against him. He said the jury should have been told Starr was being investigated for fraud, but the judge denied his request. Starr has admitted he was guilty of defrauding clients, including Snipes, director Martin Scorsese, and photographer Annie Leibovitz.
In another twist, Snipes's attorneys said they had received e-mail from two jurors asserting that during trial deliberations, three jurors had decided to vote guilty before they had heard any evidence, according to TMZ.