OCALA, Fla. – A judge has refused to postpone actor Wesley Snipes' tax evasion trial after his newly appointed attorneys asked for extra time to allow them to prepare.
Snipes' new lead attorney, Robert G. Bernhoft, wrote in a three-page emergency motion that the actor was concerned about whether his former attorney Daniel Meachum would be physically well enough to take an active role in his Oct. 22 trial.
According to the motion, Snipes also felt that lead trial attorney William R. Martin had not prepared adequately.
Senior Judge Terrell Hodges on Wednesday rejected the reasons given in the motion.
"This series of events would lead any reasonable person to suspect that the defendant's dismissal of able counsel is nothing more than a ploy designed to force a continuance of the trial," Hodges said. "In any event, it will not have that effect."
An October 2006 federal indictment charges Snipes with fraudulently claiming refunds totaling nearly $12 million in 1996 and 1997 for income taxes already paid. The star of the "Blade" trilogy and other films also was charged with failure to file returns from 1999 through 2004.
The indictment said Snipes 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.
The indictment said Kahn and Rosile, through American Rights Litigators, collected fees of up to 20 percent of refunds from fraudulent tax returns.
A telephone message left by The Associated Press with Bernhoft's office was not immediately returned. A telephone listing for American Rights Litigators could not be located.