Wesley Snipes has told a newspaper columnist he is being unfairly targeted by federal prosecutors who indicted him on tax fraud charges.
“It appears I’m to be the scapegoat, because there’s more public interest in ‘celebrities gone bad’ than ‘rich people being taken advantage of,”’ Snipes wrote last weekend in an e-mail to Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell.
An Oct. 17 indictment charges Snipes with fraudulently claiming refunds totaling nearly $12 million in 1996 and 1997 on income taxes already paid. The star of the “Blade” trilogy and other films was also charged with failure to file returns from 1999 through 2004.
According to the indictment, Snipes had his taxes prepared by accountants with a history of filing false returns to reap payments for their clients. The firm, American Rights Litigators, would receive 20 percent of refunds from clients, according to the indictment.
If convicted, Snipes, 44, faces up to 16 years in prison.
“I will abide by the law, seek the protections the law affords me and, as always, seek the advice of competent council in effort to resolve this issue,” Snipes wrote to the columnist. “I’m not running, I’m not a fugitive, despite the misrepresentations in the press.”
Snipes is said to be in Namibia filming a movie.
“There is no deal that has been worked out,” U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Steve Cole said Monday. “The only thing we have discussed is coming back to face the charges.”