There is “no basis in reality” for film star Wesley Snipes’s claims that he cannot get a fair trial on tax evasion charges because of racial prejudice, US federal prosecutors said today.
Snipes’s lawyer desbribed Ocala in Florida, where the January trial is set, as “a hotbed of (Ku Klux Klan) activity”. He alleged that prosecutors chose it to get the best chance of an all-white jury.
US Attorney Robert O’Neill wrote in a court submission today: “Defendant Snipes’s motion hurls scurrilous and baseless accusations at the prosecution and citizenry of Ocala in an overwrought attempt to have this case dismissed or transferred to another venue.”
Snipes is charged with fraudulently claiming refunds totalling £5.8m in 1996 and 1997 for income taxes already paid.
The 45-year-old star of the Blade trilogy and other films was also charged with failure to file returns from 1999 until 2004.
Snipes’s motion sought to have the case dismissed or the trial moved to New York.
The alleged misconduct happened in Florida’s Lake County.
The case could be handled in either Orlando or the Marion County seat of Ocala, located about 80 miles north of Orlando, but prosecutors said Ocala is appropriate because more of Snipes’s alleged crimes happened in that district.