Despite the best efforts of a crack defense team and 39 pages of testimonials from other show-biz types, friends, and employees, Orlando-born actor/action-star Wesley Snipes was given the maximum sentence Thursday for not filing his taxes for 3 years–an equivalent 36 months in prison. Not even Denzel referring to him as “a mighty oak” (huh?) and Woody’s claim that his friend “strives for rightness in all his relations” and that Wesley is “a true citizen of the world” (OK, so?) helped. Neither did celebrity TV judges Joe Brown and Greg Mathis (!!), who both chimed in with the opinion that Snipes didn’t deserve prison time. And I’m sure it makes us all feel better to know that fellow tough guy, Chuck Norris, “admires and respects Wesley Snipes…We, in the martial arts, say making mistakes is how you learn to go forward and be a better person.” So Walker, Texas Ranger says if I take up karate, I’m cool to cheat the government–awesome.
Whether it’s millions of $$$ as the government says or (only) hundreds of thousands as his defense lawyers claim, it’s nice to know that justice can’t always be bought or celebrity can’t always trump right and wrong. In Judge William Hodges own words, “There’s nothing unusual about prosecuting a celebrity. [Snipes] never mentioned the words tax or taxes in his apology.” The flip side of course, is that the court was sending a little message if its own. But no matter how trusting, gullible, vulnerable, and (let’s not forget) rich you are, an educated, grown man has got to be able to figure out that getting involved with sleazes and tax-related schemes to defraud the IRS is not exactly kosher. And now Wesley has to pay the price.