Snipes aide memo: 'I hate the IRS'
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 11:39 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 11:39 a.m.
OCALA -- Prosecutors continued laying a foundation of documentation in the Wesley Snipes tax evasion trial Wednesday.
Testimony picked up where it left off Tuesday, with Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Cameron Lalli identifying documents associated with Snipes and his codefendants Eddie Ray Kahn and Douglas Rosile.
Snipes, Kahn and Rosile each are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud and one count of aiding and abetting the making of a false and fraudulent claim as part of an alleged tax fraud scheme. Snipes also is charged with six counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns.
One document, a 1997 letter from Rosile to Kahn, shows the beginning of the link between the two. Rosile wrote to Kahn after seeing him speak in April 1997.
''My being an accountant does not reflect some love of the IRS or the federal bureaucracy,'' Rosile wrote. ''I can assure you I hate the IRS.''
Rosile is a former certified public accountant whose certification was revoked in the 1990s in both Florida and Ohio. He prepared tax returns for members of Kahn's American Rights Litigators organization, including Snipes, between April 2001 and April 2002.
Snipes lawyer Robert Barnes questioned whether Snipes received due process his lawyers claim he was entitled to under IRS regulations.
Lalli repeatedly responded that he didn't know whether Snipes received hearings and rulings his ARL advisors requested.
In one case, ARL lawyer Milton H. Baxley II requested a ''letter of determination'' as to whether Snipes was required to file a tax return. The agency responded that it could not issue such a ruling until Snipes filed tax returns for 1999 and 2000.
Although Snipes never received the $11.3 million refund he sought for his 1996 and 1997 taxes, other ARL clients did receive refunds, some substantial. The organization took 20 percent of the refunds, according to documents shown to jurors Wednesday. One check to ARL was for more than $28,000, of which Rosile received half for preparing the amended tax return, the documents showed.
Retired Treasury Department fraud expert William Kerr testified that the ''bills of exchange'' sent to the Treasury by Snipes to pay his tax bills were fictitious documents.
''They have no validity, and they're worthless,'' Kerr said.
Snipes sent a total of four such bills of exchange to the treasury department between 2000 and 2002, including one for $12 million.
The bills are based on the theory that the Treasury Department has a personal account for every U.S. citizen and that the bills can be drawn on that account. No such accounts exist, Kerr said.
Legitimate bills of exchange do exist, but are used by businesses exchanging things of actual value, Kerr said. Unlike those used by tax protesters, those bills are based on a real underlying transaction, he said.
Snipes and his lawyers haven't yet decided whether the actor will testify in his own defense, lead counsel Robert Bernhoft said late Wednesday.
''That decision will be made later,'' he said.
Bernhoft said the trial was going well for Snipes so far, and lawyers appeared to have backed off earlier concerns about whether Snipes could get a fair trial in Ocala.
''It was a very good day,'' he said. ''A jury of good folk are going to see what all the witnesses say, and going to look at the documents and they'll reach a fair decision.''
Bernhoft said he was glad to see facts coming out at trial instead of what he termed ''massive misinformation'' from some sources before the trial began, such as claims that Snipes was a fugitive.
''Wesley Snipes voluntarily returned to the United States to stand trial,'' Bernhoft said.
''He returned to the United States form a country that didn't have an extradition treaty.''
The trial is scheduled to continue today, with additional testimony from IRS computer expert Michael Anderson about the contents of computers seized from the Mount Dora offices of Kahn's Guiding Light of God Ministries in 2004.
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