Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Share this on:Mixx Facebook Twitter Digg delicious reddit MySpace StumbleUpon LinkedIn Viadeo Facing prison, Snipes pins hope on 'prayers,' Sup
Los Angeles (CNN) -- Actor Wesley Snipes said he was nervous about going to jail on Thursday, but was hopeful that his prayers would be answered.
"We still have prayers out there. We still believe in miracles. So don't send me up the river yet," Snipes said in an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" Tuesday night.
The 48-year-old actor will report to McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Lewis Run, Pennsylvania, Thursday to begin serving a three-year sentence for failing to file tax returns.
Snipes' attorney said he is appealing Snipes' misdemeanor convictions for not filing tax returns in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Snipes was acquitted of felony charges.
The actor conceded he was uneasy about losing his freedom if his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court fails.
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"I think any man would be nervous if his liberty is at stake," Snipes said. "I'm disappointed that the system seems not to be working for me in this situation."
Prosecutors said Snipes earned $40 million since 1999 but had filed no returns and had been involved in a tax resisters group.
Snipes disputed such involvement and said that the failure to file was his advisers' fault.
"This is another thing that has been misreported: It has been framed that I was a conspirator and that I was an architect in a scheme by an organization that has been characterized as tax protesters," Snipes said. "The press hasn't reported that I was a client of people who I trusted [who] had knowledge and expertise in the areas of tax law that would protect my interests."
Snipes is best known for his roles in the "Blade" action films, the comedy film "White Men Can't Jump" and the drama "Jungle Fever."
Last February, a jury convicted Snipes on the misdemeanor charges, but he was acquitted of more serious felony charges of tax fraud and conspiracy. Jurors accepted his argument that he was innocently duped by errant tax advisers.
Defense attorneys in court documents suggested that to sentence Snipes harshly would be to disregard the jury's verdict.
But prosecutors, in their sentencing recommendation, said the jurors' decision "has been portrayed in the mainstream media as a 'victory' for Snipes. The troubling implication of such coverage for the millions of average citizens who are aware of this case is that the rich and famous Wesley Snipes has 'gotten away with it.' In the end the criminal conduct of Snipes must not be seen in such a light."
Snipes suggested he was unfairly singled out by prosecutors.
"It does seem to be rather unusual and rather bizarre when you had a prosecutor come into the sentencing and say that this is the biggest tax trial in the history of the IRS," Snipes said. "I think there is a certain amount of selectivity going on here."
Snipes indicated he was disturbed by some public comments that he was receiving "just punishment."
"It's been presented as though I'm worthy of this punishment," Snipes said. "I've been a law-abiding citizen ever since I grew up in the Bronx, New York."
One juror, Frank Tuttle, gave Larry King Live a written statement that three other jurors had made up their mind that Snipes was guilty before the trial began. The jury's verdict was a compromise between those jurors who thought Snipes was guilty and those who didn't, Tuttle said in the statement.
"That's when a deal was made to find him guilty on the failure to file taxes and not guilty on the federal tax evasion charges," Tuttle said in the statement. "We did not think he would go to jail."
Snipes' attorney, Daniel R. Meachum, said neither he nor Snipes had any involvement in preparing that juror's statement to Larry King Live, saying the show's producers obtained it on their own.
"We on the defense team never suggested that the media reach out to any of the jurors," Meachum said.
Snipes contended that some media accounts of his trial have distorted public perceptions.
"There have been some egregious and very malicious efforts to report the facts of this case," Snipes said. "I was never charged with tax evasion. I've never been a tax protester."
Snipes said he has paid his taxes.
"They claimed that there was a certain number that was owed and that number has been all over that place. The press has escalated it and changed it a number of times. But we think we are fully complaint with what was owed," Snipes said. "Not did I pay but my position is that I always paid."
China to hand out its own peace prize
Protesters in Hong Kong on December 5 demanding the release of Liu Xiaobo from a Chinese jail
Beijing (CNN) -- China is all set to give out its own first-ever peace prize Thursday, a move apparently to counter the Norwegian Nobel committee's choice of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo as this year's laureate.
Organizers told CNN they will present the Confucius Peace Prize -- which comes with an award of $15,000 -- in Beijing to promote the ancient sage's philosophy, a day before the Nobel committee honors Liu in Oslo.
"China is a great nation that has been influenced by the Confucian concept of peace for a long time," said Tan Changliu, chairman of the awards committee. "We want to promote world peace from an Eastern perspective."
"Europe is full of small countries that had fought each other for centuries," he added. "We don't want to see people who don't understand peace to ruin the concept."
Tan declined to give details about his group -- other than saying it is a non-government organization -- or how the five-judge awards committee operated.
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His committee has released a vaguely worded statement on its criteria for choosing the winner, but announced this year's nominees included Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates and the Panchen Lama, a Tibetan Buddhist leader loyal to Beijing.
China has responded furiously since the Nobel committee announced its decision on October 8. Officials have repeatedly called Liu -- currently serving an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion" -- a common criminal and the award a Western plot against China.
A businessman first proposed a rival peace prize in a commentary on the November 17 edition of Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.
Echoing government spokesmen, Liu Zhiqin said that by awarding the prize to a criminal, the Nobel committee created 1.3 billion "dissidents" in China.
"We often stress the need to fight for the right to speak," he wrote. "China's civil society should consider setting up a 'Confucius Peace Prize'... to declare China's view on peace and human rights to the world."
China has warned other countries of "consequences" if they attend Friday's Nobel ceremony in Oslo. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday that more than 100 countries and groups had joined China in boycotting this year's event.
The Nobel committee, which said it had sent out 65 invitations to embassies in Oslo, counted 19 countries that had declined so far -- including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran.
Tan, the awards committee chairman for the Confucius Peace Prize, would not divulge the guest list for his event. He confirmed the first honoree is Lien Chan, Taiwan's former vice president, for his contribution in bridging the gap between the island and mainland China.
Lien's staff said they were surprised to hear the news.
"We know who Confucius is, but don't know anything about this prize," said Ting Yuan-chao, director of Lien's office in Taipei.
Despite the perceived rivalry between the two peace prizes, they may have one important thing in common -- the absence of their recipients at this year's award ceremonies