PHILADELPHIA – The tax-fraud investigation that led to the indictment of "Blade" star Wesley Snipes began with a raid four years ago in Pennsylvania, an IRS agent testified.
Special Agent James Morris, speaking in court Wednesday, said agents found documents in a man's home in 2002 that led to a nationwide investigation into fraudulent trust funds. Snipes owned one of those trusts, another witness said.
The testimony came in the trial of Arthur Farnsworth, who is accused of tax evasion.
When agents searched Farnsworth's home near Sellersville, they found documents suggesting Farnsworth owned several bogus trusts, Morris said. Among them was one designed to hide money and assets to avoid payment of federal income taxes.
Snipes owned a similar trust, according to testimony by Wayne Rebuck, a former director at the company that sold the trusts. Rebuck said he pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count in return for his testimony against Farnsworth.
Snipes, star of the "Blade" trilogy, "Jungle Fever" and "White Men Can't Jump," was indicted in October on eight counts of tax fraud. He was accused of trying to cheat the government out of nearly $12 million in false refund claims and not filing returns for six years.
The 44-year-old actor has said he is a scapegoat and was unfairly targeted by prosecutors, and has suggested he was taken advantage of.
Farnsworth, 43, who has publicly stated he hasn't paid federal taxes in years, was charged in November 2004 with three counts of income-tax evasion.
His trial in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia was continuing Thursday. Farnsworth's attorneys say the government did not prove its case against their client.