Wesley Snipes' tax evasion trial will occur next month in Ocala, Fla., even though the actor's lawyers claim he won't be able to receive a fair trial in the city because of pervasive racism.
U.S. District Judge William T. Hodges nevertheless ruled that the trial should proceed there in January. Snipes' lawyers had filed two motions, saying in one that prosecutors "deliberately chose the most racially discriminatory venue available to the government with the best possibility of an all-white southern jury where Snipes has never resided." The motion also noted that the Ocala area had statues of the founder of the Ku Klux Klan and was a "hotbed of Klan activity."
Snipes was indicted in October 2006 for fraudulently claiming tax refunds amounting to nearly $12 million in 1996 and 1997, and for failing to file tax returns between 1999 and 2004. He claimed that only income from foreign sources was taxable, and that the trial should take place in either New York or Orlando, where he has resided.
The Blade star is charged with conspiring with Eddie Ray Kahn, founder of American Rights Litigators, and former CPA Douglas Rosile in the tax scheme.
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