Actor Wesley Snipes loses tax case appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Actor Wesley Snipes, serving a three-year prison sentence for failing to file income tax returns, suffered a legal setback on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case.

Snipes, 48, the star of the “Blade” action movies, was convicted in 2008 in a Florida court for willful failure to file federal tax returns from 1999 through 2001.

Snipes, who has served nearly one year of his three-year term, was accused of not filing personal income tax returns and not paying any taxes from 1999 through 2004 despite earning more than $37 million as an actor and producer.

Attorneys for Snipes said the case was improperly brought in Florida and should have been moved to New York, but the trial judge and a U.S. appeals court rejected those arguments.

Defense attorneys said that, during the earlier tax years in question, Snipes lived with his family in New York City and then moved to a home in the northern New Jersey suburbs. He also had a residence near Los Angeles.

U.S. Justice Department prosecutors said Florida was the proper venue for the case.

They presented evidence at trial that Snipes was born in Florida, had a home in Windermere, Florida, since 1992, had a Florida driver’s license and listed Windermere as his residence in contracts for the “Blade” movies.

In the Supreme Court appeal, attorneys for Snipes said the trial judge should have held a hearing on the evidence about venue before submitting the issue to the jury.

The high court rejected the appeal without any comment, refusing to hear the case.

The Supreme Court case is Wesley Snipes v. United States, No. 10-1075.

Reporting by James Vicini; Editing by John O’Callaghan