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Wesley Snipes Surrenders on Tax Evasion

Orlando- Claiming he is not a runner, despite facts showing otherwise, actor Wesley Snipes said he is ready to put up with the law and surrendered to police on income-tax evasion charges earlier on Friday.

After being made a “scapegoat” by overzealous federal prosecutors and indicted on tax fraud charges, Snipes gave in to government officials in Orlando, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa and was taken into custody at Orlando International Airport in Florida. He was due in federal court in Ocala later that same day.

The 44-year-old star was charged nearly two months ago on a litany of tax-dodging charges and a warrant was issued for his arrest. While Snipes was busy with his upcoming movie, “Gallowaalkers” shooting in Namibia, his lawyers and the authorities tried to work out a deal so that Snipes would turn himself in.

According to Snipes, he has been wrongly accused of everything due to the fact that he’s black. In a statement he issued almost three weeks ago to a newspaper columnist he said:

“I know this has more to do with a few individuals with access to power, making moves (trying to move up!) and less with some alleged crime against the whole population of the United States of America. This reminds me of rape cases where the ‘victim’ is flipped, turned or converted into the role of victimizer, the ‘architect conspirator,'”Snipes wrote in an e-mail to Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell.

“It appears I’m to be the scapegoat, because there’s more public interest in ‘celebrities gone bad’ than ‘rich people being taken advantage of,’ ” he added.

He continues: “Being a black male who asks questions doesn’t help the situation either. But this is a serious issue, NO, a very serious issue that I am not taking lightly one bit. I will abide by the law, seeking the protections the law affords me and as always seek the advice of competent council in effort to resolve this issue. I’m not running, I’m not a fugitive, despite the misrepresentations in the press.”

On October 17th, the “Blade” actor was accused for fraudulently claiming refunds of nearly $12-million (U.S.) in 1996 and 1997 on income taxes already paid. He has reportedly failed to file returns between 1999 and 2006. If convicted, he faces up to 16 years in prison.

Ian Thompson, a spokesman for Sheer Films, which is producing “Gallowwalkers”, told the Associated Press that Snipes planned to return to Namibia after the court hearing to finish work on the film. Filmmakers expect to finish with the shooting in two weeks at most. The film is scheduled to hit the theaters in fall 2007.
 

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