The defence team acting for Wesley Snipes in his Florida tax evasion trial
abruptly closed its case, after only an hour, without calling any witnesses.
The prosecution built up a formidable case in the last two weeks and finally
closed on Friday.
But lawyers acting for Snipes explained their no-defence tactic, claiming
that the prosecution’s case was so weak that they bore the ‘complete failure of
Snipes’ attorney Robert Bernhoft said that the decision to not call any of
the actor’s friends, set to testify on his behalf, was made on Sunday night.
His team had rounded up a star defence witness list which included Sylvester
Stallone, Spike Lee, Muhammad Ali, Goldie Hawn and Woody Harrelson.
‘We could have put on a big show, but we don’t do that. We’re not going to
waste the jury’s time,’ he said.
The list was made up of celebrities who at one time were clients of Starr
& Co, a New York-based financial management company whose tax advice Snipes
criticised. The company had handled his accounts between 1993 and 2000.
The prosecution told the court that Snipes paid no tax between 1999 and 2004,
, despite earning $37,897,053 in Hollywood.
In fact, Snipes sought a tax refund of nearly $12 million in 1996 and 1997.
The star’s legal team maintain he was a victim of dubious tax advisors.
Closing arguments are expected today.
Snipes faces 16 years in prison if convicted.
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