Actor Wesley Snipes talks to the media as he walks into the Golden-Collum Memorial Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2007. Closing arguments in Snipes’ tax-fraud case were to begin this morning, with the case expected to go to a jury this afternoon. (AP) Hmm, which Civil Right’s Era guy does he look like here?
Remember the 1990s when Wesley Snipes was gainfully employed? Riding high even off acclaim in films like Spike Lee’s “Jungle Fever” and “Mo’ Betta Blues?” Remember the line, “Always bet on black,” that he uttered in the cool-at-the-time action flick “Passenger 57?”
Remember when he was relevant? Credited with making dark skinned brothers hip and sexy in Hollywood? Gosh, that seems so long ago. I forgot what a big action star he was (“US Marshals,” “Demolition Man,” “The Art of War”) and how great he was in “White Men Can’t Jump.” Remember him Scarfacing it up in “New Jack City” and how NOT believable it was when Ice-T managed to beat up Nino Brown? Wesley was big! Then Wesley pissed off half his fan base, black women, in an Ebony Magazine article. Then Wesley’s star power wained. Then Wesley got a great boost starring in the “Blade” trilogy (and he was pretty awesome in the first two films). Then Wesley went bat-shit insane.
Now he’s getting prosecuted for scamming the IRS because he fell into some bogus scheme where he didn’t give the government their cut for his 90s paydays. IRS prosecutors claim that Snipes and his cohorts fell into the whole “tax avoidance” movement which has thrived on the internet and leading to some other high profile cases, like a couple who barricaded themselves inside their home to avoid arrest by federal agents last year.
Wesley, obviously, did not learn from previous stars like Sammy “Jo-Jo Dancer Your Life Is Calling” Davis Jr., comedian Redd Foxx, Godfather of Soul James Brown, country icon Willie Nelson and Ron “Mr. Biggs” Isley, the IRS might not get you today, it might not get you tomorrow, but Uncle Sam is going to get his eventually.
But why should that stop Snipes’ lawyers from arguing that this is not a fraud case, but merely a “disagreement” with the IRS over the $12 million he conned out of the government.
From the Associated Press:
Defense attorney Robert Barnes conceded Snipes’ arguments may have been crazy, but insisted that didn’t make them criminal.
“Disagreement with the IRS is not fraud of the IRS, is not deception,” Barnes said. “It was an attempt to engage the IRS, to go through the IRS procedures and processes and see who’s right.”
Of course, the IRS is salivating at the prospect of prosecuting him, but not because of the money. They want to send a message to other people who use the whole “you don’t have to pay taxes” mumbo jumbo to circumvent the government.
“People who do it openly and notoriously, you’ve got to go after them,” said Sheldon Cohen, who was IRS commissioner and general counsel in the 1960s. “Not because he’s that important or the amount of money is that important, but because there are others who may be foolish enough to follow.”
I’m actually kind of sad because Wesley was always, for me, the more action oriented contemporary to Denzel Washington. (Heck, I’d gather he made more bank in the 90s than Denzel.) They were both equally good actors, with Wesley pulling off a style that was half-method acting, half-classically trained. The brother could do Shakespeare! I didn’t necessarily find him all that attractive, but he had sex appeal, and with the 90 billion black and brown people crammed into the Matrix sequels it amazes me that no one could make room for martial arts star/action dynamo Wesley Snipes? No room in any of the X-Men films? I understood him being a little uppity over Hollywood, (See Isaiah Washington, who is essentially, Wesley Snipes-lite), but he should have known better than getting involved in that tax scheme.
Those angry black women from the 90s are going to seem like a dream compared to the 16 years he may be facing in prison.