The prosecution in the tax evasion trial of Wesley Snipes rested Friday, clearing the way next week for the defense and its potential list of celebrity witnesses, including Snipes himself.
The final prosecution witness, Internal Revenue Service agent Steward Stich, showed Friday that the actor earned almost $38 million in the years he failed to file federal income tax returns, 1999 to 2004.
Snipes is charged with tax fraud, conspiracy and willful failure to file tax returns, which could bring up to 16 years in prison.
Co-defendants Eddie Ray Kahn, founder of the tax protest groups American Rights Litigators and Guiding Light of God Ministries, and Douglas P. Rosile, who allegedly prepared Snipes' false documents, face up to 10 years.
Prosecutors say Snipes paid taxes in the '90s, but changed his mind after meeting Kahn in 2000. He allegedly stopped filing returns, illegally sought $11 million in 1996 and 1997 taxes paid and drew fake checks to pay the U.S. Treasury.
The celebrity witnesses who could take the stand include Sylvester Stallone, Muhammad Ali, Spike Lee and Tom Brokaw. All were former clients of the New York-based Starr and Co. that handled Snipes' taxes before the actor met his co-defendants.
Snipes' lawyer, Robert Barnes, said they could testify that the firm "gave bad advice to many people."