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High court dismisses actor's appeal on tax evasion conviction

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
  • Wesley Snipes will remain in prison to continue serving a three-year term
  • He was convicted for not filing tax returns in 1999, 2000 and 2001
  • Snipes blamed the failure to file on his advisers

Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of actor Wesley Snipes over his federal conviction on tax evasion charges.

The justices' brief order Monday came without comment, and means Snipes will remain in prison to continue serving a three-year term.

The 48-year-old actor had appealed his misdemeanor convictions for not filing tax returns in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Snipes was acquitted of felony charges.

Two days before reporting to the medium-security McKean Federal Correctional Institution in Lewis Run, Pennsylvania, last December, Snipes told CNN he was hopeful of ultimately winning his case.

"We still have prayers out there. We still believe in miracles. So don't send me up the river yet," Snipes said December 7 on CNN's "Larry King Live." "I think any man would be nervous if his liberty is at stake. I'm disappointed that the system seems not to be working for me in this situation."

There was no immediate comment from Snipes on the court's refusal to intervene, allowing the convictions to stand.

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.

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."

In February 2010, 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 has suggested he was unfairly singled out by prosecutors, and claimed he has paid his back taxes.

The case is Snipes v. U.S. (10-1075).

CNN's Michael Martinez contributed to this report.