News and Press Releases

Court Affirms Wesley Trent Snipes Most Recent Appeal

September 6, 2011

Atlanta, Georgia - U.S. Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today denied relief in Wesley Trent Snipes's most recent appeal. In the appeal, Snipes challenged the district court's order denying his post-trial, post-appeal motion to interview jurors.

Snipes did not file tax returns or pay taxes for almost a decade, despite earning tens of millions of dollars from movies. In February 2008, a federal jury found him guilty of three counts of willful failure to file a tax return. The district court sentenced him to serve three years' imprisonment, but allowed him to remain at liberty pending his appeal. In July 2010, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed Snipes's judgment and sentence "in all respects," United States v. Snipes, 611 F.3d 855 (11th Cir. 2010), and, in September 2010, denied his petition for rehearing. He began serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in McKean, Pennsylvania, in December 2010. The United States Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari in June 2011. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, his projected release date is July 19, 2013.

In today's opinion, the Eleventh Circuit court rejected Snipes's most recent claims that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion to interview jurors based on emails concerning jury deliberations that two purported jurors had sent to defense counsel two-and-a-half years after the verdict. The Eleventh Circuit agreed with the district court that the emails were inadmissible because they concerned the jury's deliberations, which, absent limited and inapplicable exceptions, may not serve as grounds for a new trial. The Eleventh Circuit further agreed with the district court that, even if the emails had been admissible, "they did not constitute clear, strong, substantial and incontrovertible evidence of the type of misconduct that would warrant a new trial."

This case was investigated by the IRS-CI. It was prosecuted by United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill, Assistant United States Attorney Patricia Barksdale, former Assistant United States Attorney Scot Morris, and U.S. Department of Justice Tax Divison Attorneys S. Robert Lyons and Jeff McLellanText of the press release can be pasted over the following paragraphs.




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