Wesley Snipes was sentenced to the maximum of three years in prison for failing to file his income taxes.
Snipes was convicted in February on three misdemeanor counts of failing to file his income taxes for 1999, 2000, and 2001, but was acquitted of felony charges.
Snipes apologized for his actions. "I am very sorry for my mistakes and errors," he said in a statement. "I acknowledge that I have failed myself and others."
Prosecutors urged Judge William Terrell Hodges of Ocala, Fla., to impose the maximum sentence to discourage other tax protesters from following Snipes' example.
Snipes' lawyers asked the judge for probation and included letters of support vouching for Snipes' character from fellow actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington, in addition to Judge Joe Brown and other supporters.
In his letter to the judge, Harrelson recounted his experience meeting Snipes when they first worked on the movie Wildcats. "He strives for rightness in all his relations and I realized early on what a citizen of the world Wes is," wrote Harrelson. "He continues to earn my respect to this day."
Washington described his friendship over more than 20 years with Snipes. "Many who know him have witnessed the fruit of his labors, have sat in his shade and even been protected by his presence," wrote Washington. "I am proud of him, proud to call him a fellow thespian and most importantly, proud to call him a friend."
Snipes' lawyers asked to give the court envelopes containing checks for $5 million to pay his past tax bills, but the judge and prosecutor refused. An Internal Revenue Service agent later accepted the money.
Snipes' co-defendants also faced sentencing on felony fraud and conspiracy charges. Eddie Ray Kahn, who ran the organization, American Rights Litigators, received a term of 10 years in prison, while Snipes' accountant Douglas Rosile, who prepared his tax returns, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison.
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