After haggling with investigators and federal prosecutors for almost a decade, action star Wesley Snipes finally cut the government three checks for $5 million hours before he was to be sentenced yesterday for failing to file income taxes, reports the Associated Press. The government took the money but Snipes still got a maximum three-year sentence for one of the highest-profile criminal tax cases in decades.
“The sentencing court sends the right message to the American taxpayer — you’ve got to pay your taxes,” said U.S. Attorney Robert O’Neill. “Rich, poor, it doesn’t matter. We all pay our taxes.” Snipes was acquitted of five other charges, including felony tax fraud and conspiracy. Snipes’ attorneys argued the sentence was too stiff for a first-time offender convicted of three misdemeanors. Judge William Terrell Hodges in Ocala, Fl., said Snipes exhibited a “history of contempt over a period of time” for U.S. tax laws.