Actor Wesley Snipes was found not guilty of federal tax fraud and conspiracy charges this afternoon. He was, however, convicted of three misdemeanor counts of failing to file a tax return.
As blogged about earlier here, Snipes lawyers argued that the star of the "Blade" films was himself a victim of bad tax advice in connection with the conspiracy and fraud charges. The jury agreed.
While Snipes was acquitted on the most serious charges, his former advisers and co-defendants -- Eddie Ray Kahn, founder of a tax protest group, and Douglas P. Rosile, an accountant who lost his licenses in Florida and Ohio -- were convicted by the same jury of tax fraud and conspiracy. Both face up to 10 years in prison.
Bad advice or bad decision? I wasn't on the jury and I didn't hear all the evidence, but at least on the surface, this strikes me as the latest in our increasing national propensity to pass the buck. Maybe our new motto should be "not my fault."
Kahn and Rosile might well have given Snipes some illegal reasons for not filing, and the jury apparently decided that the actor wasn't an active participant in formulating the tax avoidance scheme.
But my gut says Snipes likely knew the tax approach he took was iffy at best.
At least he will bear the consequences of not filing returns from 1999 to 2004. Snipes now faces a maximum sentence for that oversight of up to three years.
More on today's verdict in this AP story.