Federal judge denies Snipes' attempt to get trial moved from Ocala


Published: Monday, January 7, 2008 at 8:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 7, 2008 at 8:51 p.m.

OCALA, Fla. - Wesley Snipes' most recent request to have his tax evasion trial moved from this central Florida city was denied Monday by a federal judge.

Wesley Snipes
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Wesley Snipes

Actor Wesley Snipes leaves the Federal Courthouse in Ocala Fla. after posting a $1 million bond in this Dec. 8, 2006, file photo. Wesley Snipes is still trying to have his federal tax-evasion trial moved from this central Florida city. Snipes' lawyer Robert Barnes filed a motion with a federal appeals court in Atlanta on Friday, Jan. 4, 2008, arguing that U.S. District Judge William T. Hodges erred when last month he denied Snipes' motions to relocate and postpone the trial.

Reinhold Matay/The Associated Press, file photo

Senior U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges said the motion was meaningless because the change of venue request applied only to some counts and not all. Hodges also said the motion cited no legal authority for an appeal, making the motion "frivolous both on the merits as well as the absence of any established jurisdiction" for the appeals court, the Ocala Star-Banner reported.

Snipes' lawyer Robert Barnes filed the motion last week in an attempt to delay the trial, scheduled to start Jan. 14.

The actor's legal team argued Snipes cannot get a fair trial in Ocala, located about 80 miles north of Orlando. Snipes previously filed two motions to dismiss or transfer the trial because of racial prejudices.

A telephone message left for Snipes' attorney by The Associated Press on Monday evening was not immediately returned.

Last month, Hodges denied Snipes' motions to relocate and postpone the trial.

Federal prosecutors have previously said there is "no basis in reality" for Snipes' claims.

A federal indictment charges Snipes with fraudulently claiming refunds totaling almost $12 million in 1996 and 1997 for income taxes already paid. The 45-year-old star of the "Blade" trilogy and other films also was charged with failure to file returns from 1999 through 2004.

Snipes allegedly conspired with American Rights Litigators' founder Eddie Ray Kahn and tax preparer Douglas P. Rosile Sr. to file false refund claims based on a bogus argument that only income from foreign sources was subject to taxation.

Lawyers argued Snipes had the right to a trial in New York, where he lived between October 2000 and April 2005 when the offenses allegedly occurred, or in Orlando, where he also has a home.

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